The supreme court in Michigan has ruled that Governor Gretchen Whitmer exceeded her constitutional authority under state law in the arbitrary enforcement of her unilateral decrees to mitigate the COVID-19 virus. [pdf here] As the court wrote in the opinion rebuking the governor:
“The people of this state have been denied a voice and a seat at the table in decisions that have impacted every facet of their lives and their futures over the past eight months. They deserve to have their representatives bring their voice and their concerns into this decision-making process.”
At the heart of the governor’s legal argument was a 1945 law allowing the governor to declare a state of disaster or emergency if she finds one to exist and it remains in place for 28 days, unless the Legislature extends it. The legislature did not extend the declaration, yet the governor continued to restrict the citizens without any representative voice.
MICHIGAN – […] In the 4-3 ruling, the court determined the governor did not have the authority under state law to issue any additional emergency declarations pertaining to the pandemic after April 30. That was the last date when the legislature allowed the governor to declare an emergency.
“The governor’s declaration of a state of emergency or state of disaster may only endure for 28 days absent legislative approval of an extension. So, if the Legislature does nothing, as it did here, the governor is obligated to terminate the state of emergency or state of disaster after 28 days,” said the majority opinion, written by Judge Stephen Markman.
[…] “Put simply, and our criticism is not of the Governor in this regard but of the statute in dispute — almost certainly, no individual in the history of this state has ever been vested with as much concentrated and standardless power to regulate the lives of our people, free of the inconvenience of having to act in accord with other accountable branches of government and free of any need to subject her decisions to the ordinary interplay of our system of separated powers and checks and balances, with even the ending date of this exercise of power reposing exclusively in her own judgment and discretion,” the majority wrote.
“It is in no way to diminish the present pandemic for this Court to assert, as we now do, that with respect to the most fundamental propositions of our system of constitutional governance, with respect to the public institutions that have most sustained our freedoms over the past 183 years, there must now be some rudimentary return to normalcy.” (more)
Here’s the full ruling: