GOP-led Legislature sues Michigan Gov. Whitmer over emergency powers

Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature on Wednesday sued Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in state court on Wednesday. (Shutterstock image)

May 7 update: Michigan stay-at-home order extended to May 28

LANSING — Republican legislators filed suit against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday alleging her attempt to unilaterally extend emergency declarations amid the COVID-19 crisis is illegal, “absurd,” unconstitutional and “nonsensical.”

GOP leaders are asking the Michigan Court of Claims for an immediate ruling declaring that Whitmer’s emergency orders, including her stay-at-home and business closure mandates, are “invalid and unenforceable” because the Legislature did not extend her emergency authority.

They say a ruling of that kind would require the Democratic governor  to work with the Republican-led Legislature on plans to reopen the economy, a collaborative approach Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield contend the governor has so far refused. 

“It’s a sad day for our state, because we truly should all be working together,” Chatfield, R-Levering, said in a press conference at the Michigan Capitol. “We believe this is a necessary step to ensure that millions of people in our state have their voices heard.”

Whitmer’s office called the lawsuit “another partisan game that won’t distract the governor” and said her “No. 1 priority is saving lives,” an apparent callback to Shirkey’s recent suggestion his top priority is a petition drive to try and repeal an emergency authority law. 

“She’s making decisions based on science and data, not political or legal pressure,” said spokesperson Tiffany Brown, who noted the governor is working with a team of business, labor and health advisers on a plan to reopen the economy in phases, by region and industry. “Moving forward, the governor will continue to listen to medical experts and put the health and safety of Michiganders first.”

GOP leaders allege Whitmer violated a 1976 law requiring legislative approval to extend emergency and disaster declarations beyond 28 days.  The suit contends that, by continuing to issue and enforce executive orders, she also violated the separation of powers clause of the Michigan Constitution and encroached on legislative authority by effectively passing laws.

Emergency status allows Whitmer to continue revising and issuing executive orders to respond to the pandemic. When the Legislature denied her requested extension last week, Whitmer issued a series of new emergency declarations and said she has clear authority to do so under a separate 1945 law that does not require legislative approval. 

The Emergency Management Act of 1976 includes a provision stating that it does not “limit, modify or abridge the authority of the governor to proclaim a state of emergency” under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945

But the 1945 law, reportedly inspired by a Detroit race riot two years prior, was designed to facilitate responses to local emergencies, not the kind of statewide emergency Whitmer continues to assert in her response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawsuit contends. 

The statute gives Whitmer the authority to act “within” the state, not “throughout” it, said attorneys from the Troy-based Bush Seyferth law firm who are representing the Legislature in the caes, along with House and Senate legal counsel. The law also references areas, zones and sections, which suggests it was intended for localized responses, they said. 

Allowing Whitmer to proceed without legislative approval would place “no meaningful limits on the governor’s power at all” and is therefore “nonsensical,” according to the complaint. And letting her simply issue a new declaration every four weeks would produce “absurd results.”

“Then a state of emergency or disaster can exist forever, as does her power to rule the state via executive order,” attorneys said. “That is a staggering abuse of power.”

Two outside attorneys who spoke with Bridge Magazine last week questioned whether the Legislature had any legal recourse to challenge Whitmer in court, with one calling the governor’s statutory authority “crystal clear on its face.”

Tuesday's suit didn't contain any surprises to change that analysis, said Steve Liedel, a government policy attorney who served as chief legal counsel to Democratic former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The 1945 law includes a provision stating that it should be “broadly construed” to allow the governor to exercise state power in a time of crisis or disaster, which could be “problematic” for the GOP case, Liedel said.

“They’re going to ask the court to make a very narrow interpretation of a statute that the Legislature has enacted — a law — that says it must be interpreted broadly to effectuate the governor’s powers,” he told Bridge. “That’s a potential issue.

Given the magnitude of the case and pandemic, the lawsuit is expected to end up before the Michigan Supreme Court, which means the Legislature could incur significant costs as it retains private attorneys. 

“Personally, I don’t start any lawsuits unless I’m willing to take it all the way,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake, who told reporters he thinks the Legislature has a “responsibility” to challenge Whitmer’s continued authority to act unilaterally. 

Whitmer’s emergency declarations allow her to continue issuing executive orders amid the pandemic, including her stay-at-home mandate she has relaxed in recent weeks to allow for the construction industry, landscapers and other outdoor businesses to resume operations. Retailers that sell non-essential items are now allowed to operate for curbside pickup only. 

Republicans had requested those changes but say Whitmer could have acted sooner, and they maintain she has not explained to them how she is making critical decisions that impact residents across the state. 

As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had killed 4,179 people in Michigan, and the state had confirmed 44,397 cases since March 10. The public health crisis has led to an economic crisis, with more than 1.2 million state workers applying for unemployment benefits since mid-March.

Since the Legislature refused to extend Whitmer’s emergency declaration last week, Chatfield has called executive orders like her stay-home mandate “legally questionable,” but Attorney General Dana Nessel on Tuesday told local police to continue enforcing the orders. 

“Regardless of what you may have heard,” they are “valid and enforceable,” Nessel said in a memo.

Chatfield said Wednesday he is encouraging residents to “exercise reason” and use their best judgement about compliance with Whitmer’s orders. 

“I am not encouraging any civil disobedience or mass chaos at this point,” he said, “but I think these orders are legally questionable. That’s why we are going to court.”

Shirkey said Monday the Legislature was unlikely to sue Whitmer until next week and announced plans for a petition drive to overturn the 1945 law, which he called “probably the No. 1 priority right now.” 

But he and Chatfield said Wednesday they filed the suit now in hopes of swift resolution. 

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, made clear his caucus does not support the lawsuit and wants to focus on “finding solutions for Michigan families and workers.” 

“We are appalled that those across the aisle are choosing a global pandemic as the time to pick political fights with the governor instead of focusing on what we can do to help the people of our state,” Ananich said in a statement. 

House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, accused Republicans of “partisan political theatre, dripping with hypocrisy” and called the lawsuit a waste of time.

“As Michiganders are stretching their dollars and worrying about their livelihood in the face of a global pandemic, legislative Republicans are distracting time and attention away from the state’s response to COVID-19 and squandering scarce taxpayer resources in another dubious attempt to undermine efforts to address this unprecedented public health crisis,” Greig said in a statement. 


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Karen Dunnam
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 10:52am

"The decision-making process is a mystery to us.”

A lawsuit won't assist your comprehension.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 12:28pm

Whitmer and all the democrats insist COVID-19 decisions be based on data and yet Karen D. has no problem with Whitmer not disclosing the data she is using to keep entire state shut down.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:19pm

Why did camrade Trump close our borders the way Castro did to Cuba? When will we be able to leave?

Kent Dorfman
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 9:11pm

Every single thing you wrote was idiotic. Castro didn't close borders. Trump closed the borders to some people (non-citizens) coming from other nations, so it sounds like you're not from America based on your post? You probably can leave- I don't think there are barriers to you driving or flying out of our nation, although other nations (headed up by other people) might have barriers. Everyone is now dumber for having read what you wrote, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:40am

Castro didn't close the borders? Really Cubans can freely leave Cuba? Sorry you only learned now that Trump has done the same thing and stopped you from leaving.

Comrade Putin
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:54am

Comrade Trump and Comrade Trudeau agree to close US/Canada border. Unless you are "essential worker", niet. You stay in country and you are very happy with Comrade Trump. Trump is good person. He Make America Great Again! Don't believe kompromat. (Pee pee tape) LOL

Whitmer is tyrant? LMAO

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:33pm

I understand what the Governor is doing so why is it so difficult for you? She's trying to save lives and only open safely.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:13pm

Because suppresst is off his meds.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 4:54pm

If you think about it, it is rather hilarious that Donald Trump was insisting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer meet with an angry group of heavily armed men dressed as terrorists while he is afraid of being in the same room as Nancy Pelosi, who is armed with nothing more than keys to his head, copies of Trump’s impeachment paperwork, and photos of her nine grandchildren.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:32am

What else is the legislature doing? It's a losing case.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 12:31pm

It is not a losing case, they will likely win, and if you'd actually read articles on this website you'd know legislatos are counting more on a legislature-sponsored petition to overturn 1945 Act powers.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 1:45pm

Are "legislatos" like "legos"?

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 1:50pm

So how's it going with that case? Must be costing Michigan tax payers MILLIONS in legal fees.

Horton hears a Who
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:33am

Look at me, look at me. "We are HERE."

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:20pm

I know, a desperate cry for attention.

Legal beagle
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:35am

You need a law in order to break a law. These goofballs are clueless.

No kidding
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:20pm

What law did the governor break?

Outraged taxpayer
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 3:59am

This case is a no-brainer from a legal perspective, a clear loser for Shirkey, Chatfield, and the taxpayers of Michigan. Neither Shirkey nor Chatfield have a legal background. They hired OUTSIDE COUNSEL with OUR scarce tax dollars to file a FRIVOLOUS lawsuit during a PANDEMIC. It's frivolous because they don't cite any provision of any law that the governor violated. These two protestant Bible-thumper wannabe preachers filed a completely baseless "Hail Mary" lawsuit and should have to PERSONALLY pay the legal fees. They have worthless incompetent attorneys on their staff (again, paid with our tax dollars, at least hire competent attorneys) and still decided to hire outside counsel, which would be fine if the law were not so CRYSTAL CLEAR. One has to wonder if the outside counsel is getting some sweetheart deal. Shirkey says he intends to rack up those legal fees all the way to the supreme court, nothing like recklessly spending other people's money as though there's no tomorrow like the two true welfare queens that they are.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:26pm

Great civilizations and great strides in science and knowledge were definitely not made by timid, scared lemmings like you. Somewhere in your family tree someone took a great risk to get to this country, or survived horrendous conditions, and yet survived and prospered. And here you are now in the greatest, albeit imperfect, country ever known and you want to hide behind your mothers apron strings!?! I don’t think that’s American imho.

Hank Quayle
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:21pm

I know it's confusing, but in our nation our government only has the authority that it's given. It isn't that the government can do whatever it wants unless it's prevented from doing so by a law, it's the opposite- our government is limited to only doing those things which it is given the power to do. The Governor was never given the power to issue the kinds of royal commands which has been issuing, so she's relying on the powers implied under the 1945 law. I've read the law, and as a reasonable person I don't think it implies anywhere in there that the Governor can seize power and rule the state indefinitely as a dictator. And if the power isn't given to her, she doesn't have it. In our nation we have a limited government, so you don't "need a law to break a law".

It's okay though- I know that where you come from they have different ideas about government. We're all just learning here and observing the shocking abuses of norms that this virus has unleashed.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:20pm

Nothing is implied. The law literally gives the governor broad (excuse the pun) powers during a declared emergency and we have both a state and federal emergency declaration. Otherwise why would Trumpe keep us from leaving the country? That sounds more like the communist Castro regime in Cuba.

No more sour grapes
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:07am

Hank, where did you get your law degree, a cereal box? The 1945 law clearly gives the governor broad powers and the lawsuit does not prove otherwise. No one wants the courts to make laws. That's the legislature's job, with the executive having veto power. If there's a problem with the legislature overcoming the veto, the legislature has to take a bipartisan approach. Otherwise, sour grapes.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:48am

The news media across Michigan has been treating PA 302 of 1945 as fully the equal of PA 390 of 1976 without providing any context.

PA 302 of 1945 was an anti-insurrection statute which was passed in the wake of the 1943 Detroit race riot. Its passage was delayed by Judge Leland W. Carr's one man grand jury investigation into graft in the Michigan Legislature, which knocked the Legislature out of commission during 1944. PA 302 only passed in 1945 because the last remnants of the Purple Gang killed State Senator Warren G. Hooper near his home in Albion in January 1945. This terrified the Legislature, which had no idea what to expect next, but figured it was facing another insurrection.

PA 390 of 1976 is a comprehensive emergency management statute covering all forms of natural and unnatural disasters. The substitution of PA 302 of 1945 for PA 390 of 1976 is an exercise in self aggrandizement on the part of our Governor which should be roundly condemned.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 1:48pm

Can you cite where it says the Governor's emergency powers are limited?

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:36pm

Go to Article IV of Michigan's 1908 Constitution, which was in force when PA 302 of 1945 was enrolled:
"Departments of government.
Sec. 1. The powers of government are divided into 3 departments: The legislative, executive and judicial.
Limitations of power of officers.
Sec. 2. No person belonging to 1 department shall exercise the powers properly belonging to another, except in the cases expressly provided in this constitution."

The only emergency powers contemplated in the 1908 Constitution are in ARTICLE XVI, Miscellaneous Provisions, Section 5.:

"Vacancies in office; continuity of government in emergencies.
Sec. 5. The legislature may provide by law the cases in which any office shall be deemed vacant and the manner of filling vacancies, where no provision is made in the constitution.
The legislature, in addition to and not in the derogation of the power heretofore conferred in section 5 of this article XVL, in order to insure continuity of state and local governmental operations in periods of emergency only resulting from disasters occurring in this state caused by enemy attack on the United States shall have the power for prompt and temporary succession to the powers and duties of public offices, of whatever nature and whether filled by election or appointment, the incumbents of which may become unavailable for carrying on the powers and duties of such offices, proper for insuring the continuity of governmental operations. Notwithstanding the power conferred by this amendment elections shall always be called as soon as possible to fill any elective vacancies in any office temporarily occupied by operation of any legislation enacted pursuant to the provision of this paragraph."

The Governor cannot arrogate all State power under the Michigan Constitution of 1908. PA 302 of 1945 limited her emergency powers to limited controls over local governments experiencing insurrection.

Ben W. Washburn
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 1:08pm

I spent 25 years as legal counsel to the legislative body of Wayne County. I'm familiar with the separation of powers doctrine, which is a body of law by which this kind of question is likely to be settled. Reasoned and reasonable arguments are being made on both sides of this issue. It is therefore appropriate and in the best immediate and long-term public and economic interests that the issue be brought before the Michigan Supreme Court ASAP.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 2:10pm

"The legislature MAY (not "shall") provide by law the cases in which any office shall be deemed vacant and the manner of filling vacancies, where no provision is made in the constitution." First of all there is no vacancy of office. So the provision is irrelevant. To that point the governor is far from vacant. She is in charge, like the People of Michigan want in an emergency. The legislature in fact enacted the laws that give her the emergency powers. Lastly, it even seems the armed vigilantes are waging insurrection. So sorry, you are wrong on all counts. Try again, this time like you mean it.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 3:14pm

Yeah, but you're a poopy face and I love the Governor. Just die.

Jim Pearson
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 12:55am

You're working from the wrong assumption. I know in your home country of China or Russia that the government has unlimited power unless limited by the law, but in America it works differently. The Governor only has the powers that are authorized to her.

In this particular case, the 1976 law does allow the Governor to continue to issue declare a state of emergency. If you read a lot of phrases in the 1945 law as broadly as possible, then the Governor does indeed have a lot of power- someday when a Republican wins office I hope they invoke this law and then enact all of their policies with a single executive order and hold on to power for life (since it seems Democrats would support this legal reasoning). Even still, the 1945 law does not seem to authorize the Governor to tell me what articles of clothing I should or should not wear, it does not seem to give the Governor the power to control which businesses operate and which do not, and it does not seem to give the Governor the power to put citizens under house arrest as her whim dictates.

You seem smart though- tell me where in the law it authorizes her to do these things.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:18am

China or Russia? Let's hope in the future there isn't another incompetent republicon president, socialist to the rich, capitalist to the working poor, that leaves us vulnerable to a pandemic. Remember he is the one who declared a national emergency. Notwithstanding, yes, the governor can force you to wear clothing, even without a declared state of emergency. Are you a nudist? You don't seem very bright.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 2:12pm

Eh Jim, is the governor forcing you to wear clothes?

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:09am

Anonymous, 10x25mm cannot.

Lame legislature
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:55am

“'If we are all in this together, we should be finding a way to all work together,' said Chatfield"

Yet when many legislators say they should meet remotely, the GOP says tough luck.
Yet when many legislators say they feel uncomfortable having vigilantes armed with assault weapons staring at them like the snipers that killed JFK, the GOP says tough luck.

Why not focus on making the legislature actually work during this state emergency instead of making your own edicts without input from the elected Democrats?

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 12:39pm

Brilliant - outrage over metal detectors installed by Republicans in the 1990's owing to fear about Detroit residents (mostly black) storming capital led to charges of racism by left-wingers. so no more detectors. Now that gun-toting whites show up, NOW you want detectors again. Believe Christine Blaise Ford, but don't believe Tara Reid. You democrats dine on hypocrisy.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 1:47pm

Try to bring your AK47 assault weapons to the Supreme Court, the place that gave you the rights you think are unlimited.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:22pm

Watch out for those free speech political signs, they can damage the sacred palace of the KING/QUEEN.

middle of the mit
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 4:49pm

Why were republicans worried about blacks with rifles but not whites? Why did they install metal detectors? Why did Regan sign gun control in California in the 1960's for the same reasons?

Are your rights more infringed upon than a black persons? Do you get shot telling a cop you have a CPL?

Talk about hypocrisy?

Have you heard the Billy Bush tape with The President?

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 12:11pm

That's it. Enough. I am leaving the Republican party and their tea-bag handlers. I will never support another self-serving Republican and the corporate citizen mandates they support.
Heading over to:
Maybe they can find us a "real" republican with true values that the party once upheld, like a Teddy Roosevelt or Reagan.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 1:27pm

Leave, and don't let the door slam you in the posterior on your way out.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 1:51pm

I give the GOP credit for pretending to do something. Otherwise they might not get another term to do nothing.

Vote Libertarian
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 1:50pm

Steve, I'm voting for Justin Amash. He's a constitutionalist, never Trumper, like me.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:22pm

If you don't understand the procedural issues at stake the R's are better off without you. This isn't about CVD19 or anything else. It's about when the Governor can act without legislative approval or can just invent an emergency and become a dictator.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:22pm

The law is CLEARLY on HER side, otherwise there would be an immediate stay on her orders. Sorry, Charly, you LOSE.

Lazy legislature
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:33pm

There's no procedural issue. There's not even a legal issue. There's just a drama queen issue. I sure hope no one is actually paying you a retainer. You don't seem very well versed in the law.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:20am

No procedural issue, no legal issue. Just BS posturing.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:39pm

I am also leaving the Republican party and voting for anybody who is not a Republican. So tired of their trash-talking and arguing with everyone over everything. That protest at the Capitol did it for me but this really takes the cake. It is the last straw and I hope all these Republican legislators get voted out of office. So sick of the crap from this party that I am embarrassed to be part of it anymore. Done!

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:27pm

I'm just shocked at their "I'm taking my marbles and going home" attitude. I mean if you believe the law giving the governor emergency powers needs limitations, draft a new law. Oh they can't because they can't work with the Democrats and draft something reasonable that the governor would sign. Well so be it. Why would she approve a law that is not bipartisan? Why would she give up power that every other governor has had since 1945?

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 2:15pm

I left after W. He made this country a police state, drained the Treasury to gift his friends at Blackwater. Isn't that part of DeVos enterprises?

Regina Weiss
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 10:03pm

Yeah, I heard of this lincoln thing. It's a bunch of never-trumpers who were former Democrats and are upset that Trump didn't give them appointments. You can back this super-PAC of elite sour-grape RINO's who endorse Biden, but don't pretend that you're a Republican or that the party left you or anything. Remember, at one time the Democratic Party was a moderate, tough on crime, tough on national defense, tax-cutting party that supported privacy and the rights of workers- that party has changed too. If you like 'populists' like Teddy, then Trump is far closer to that than Biden. If you like 'conservative' Reagan, then Trump is far closer to that than Biden. So don't pretend to be a Republican on here and spread your false lies- shill for the elite super-PAC's of your choice on your MySpace page and not on here.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 4:37am

Bone spurs, tRump, is like rough rider Teddy Roosevelt, the conservationist, naturalist? Good one.

Which of these Roosevelt policies remind you of tRump?
Trust busting and regulation
Negotiated a major coal strike settlement
Prosecuted misconduct
Railroad regulations
Promoted pure food and drugs
Conservation, vigorously promoted the conservation movement, emphasizing efficient use of natural resources. He dramatically expanded the system of national parks and national forests.

Roosevelt famously said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." tRump speaks loudly and carries a little stick, even literally if you believe Stormy.

Oh and Reagan "conservative"? Actually he raised taxes several times, gave amnesty to undocumented people and was quite a big deficit spender, but by tRump standards, ANY US president is more conservative than tRump. So yeah, tRump is a lot more like Reagan, but in the bad sense.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:17pm

If the Governor was subject to the FOIA, maybe the legislature and everyone else could read the information we seek. (Of course, I'd want the legislature to be subject to the act, as well.)

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:18pm

Who wants to bet they lose?

Not a taker
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:30pm

Put it this way, they lose everyday that they don't win. If the courts agreed with them they would put in place an injunction immediately. So NO I would not take your bet. No one with any common sense would, let alone an attorney worth one hour of legal time.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:01pm

Covid 19 and Trump's a comin', we're finally on our own, this summer I hear a drummin', 70,000 and Trump's not done...........
Gotta get down to it, Trump is mowin' us down, shoulda been gone long ago.....
What will you do when the pit graves are all dug?.....Where can we run when we know?

Trump lies Peop...
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:38pm

I know for the GOP they are just numbers, but to many of us, they are people with families. Now 74,121 PEOPLE have died from COVID19 and those numbers are probably lower than the actual numbers because many people who were told to go home until the symptoms got worse and died at home were not counted. In any case, if less than 2,000,000 people die, the GOP will probably call it a SUCCESS.

Like it is
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:41pm

Hit them with a nerf ball and they'll shoot you with their AK47. The hit you with the butt of their gun and it's no big deal. Shirkey is right they're "jackasses"

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:07pm

Seems like a pretty easy case. There is no way that the Legislature ever gave the Governor the power to declare an emergency whenever he/she wants of indefinite time period, during which the Executive becomes fully vested with all Legislative authority. The 1945 law allowed temporary authority to put down civil unrest, and the 1976 laws built on this by adding the requirement of legislative approval and definite exit plans. It's not tricky.

If you and the courts disagree, then it's clear that the game has changed and power is the only thing that matters, and I look forward to the next Republican who wins declaring an emergency and issuing dictates for the next 8 years implementing whatever they wish- and you shutting up about it.

Just sayin'
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:43pm

If you were right, and you're not, it would have already been "game over" for the gov.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 5:00am

"Seems like a pretty easy case." It is an easy case to anyone versed in the law. Shirkey and Chatfield have no case. You can bring a case based on feelings. You need a law, evidence.

Rick Raisen
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:16pm

You ever notice how weak Whitmer's argument in favor of dictatorial powers is? Over and over she just chants Science and Data, without ever shows the data or science which suggests that she should have unilateral decision-making authority here. There isn't a single study or piece of data that has ever been produced that shows that she should have unilateral decision making power here. There is no science behind one person making major decisions for an entire state. This is a power grab, no more, no less.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:48pm

Yet the legislature is so weak it seems.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 5:01am

She's probably relying on the same data as the Republican governors that are doing the same thing.

Ben W. Washburn
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 6:25pm

There's a whole lot of ignorant content among the 70 some comments made to this article. But, that also should be largely excused. Even college courses in American history rarely venture into the details of the Separation of Powers Doctrine, which is a large collection of federal and state constitutional court decisions. Those are the precedents to which state and federal courts look when called upon to settle a dispute between a President and the Congress, or a state legislature and it's governor. A whole lot of judicial wisdom has gone into making these precedents. They are basically a fine-tuning of these constitutions, of what is needed to make them work, without frequent resort to the courts.
Based upon these precedents, a legislative body can provide extremely detailed limits upon any authority by which it enables executive action. But, it can not require either in the enabling legislation or by any other means that the executive bring any of those actions back for legislative approval. That is legislative overreach. If the GOP majority really wants to legally limit the governor's authority under the blanket grant provided in 1945, they must rely upon their legislative powers to amend that Act.
She is legally arguable well within the authority provided by the 1945 Act. While it was passed in response to a particular and specific emergency at the time, that Legislature did not take the time to provide detailed limits upon that grant of authority. The predominant rule of law is to read the law in it's commonly understand language, without much reference to the actual circumstance in which it was enacted. (And that's mainly, as a basic policy, because the courts do not want claims coming back to them again and again because of such differing circumstances.) It granted simple and broad authority, and no Legislature since has chosen to diminish that authority.
So, let's get this picture straight. GOP leadership is depending upon the general public ignorance that it's claims are overreaching. Hey, but, who will remember by the time that the courts boot the claim.
Well, that's no worse than what Democrats do or would do. So, Chill.

Twitch Lee
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 3:31pm

Not a good precedent to have a governor decide to extend her considerable powers without checks from other elected representatives. No individual from whatever party should be able to do this in a democracy. Very unfortunate that it has come to this. Here’s hoping the legal wrangling results in the elimination of whatever loopholes allowed this to happen.

Message to Gov. Whitmer: Learn to work with and listen to the other representatives elected by Michiganders. Bipartisan partnership, especially at a time like this, is a sign of real leadership, not weakness. We all smarter together.

Milktoast GOP
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 6:47pm

So if you were a judge, what would you rule? Would you as the judge construct a law that the governor must follow? The legislature already has the power of the purse. Why is the legislature acting so castrated?

Carl Douglas
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 9:17pm

Twitch, the biggest thing wrong with your argument is that you are assuming that the laws and processes governing our nation work the same no matter which party is in power. If a Republican tried to do what Whitmer is doing, the Democrats would be screaming about it and so would many Republicans (or at least the non-RINO's would). Democrats today don't care about democracy, separation of powers, federalism, limited government, privacy rights, or checks and balances- unless believing in those helps them get more power over others. The rules of the game are not the same.

It works at the national level too- imagine if Trump's IRS, FBI, CIA, etc had committed the sorts of crimes that the Obama IRS, FBI, CIA, etc committed- the Democrats and media and elites and bureaucrats would be demanding his head. But when Obama's administration breaks all these laws, it's an 'aww shucks' thing and 'no big deal.' The rules of the game aren't the same for both parties in our nation.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 5:03am

Bipartisanship? Which Democrats in the legislature agree with Shirkey and Chatfield?

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 4:46pm

To all you protesters, GOP included. This is not about you. We must all look outside the narrow prism of our own little lives to see how our individual actions might affect everyone else. Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities is not freedom, it is adolescence.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 1:20am

Come on Karen- you often post on here demanding that other people lay down their rights, property, and lives to do what you want. You're really good at telling other people to give up things, all while pretending to be 'non-political.' Over and over you insult others and call them little- I suppose if they are less than you that justifies you breaking their freedoms and making them work for you- often tyrants dehumanize others. You often post that people should be slaves of the state and not individuals- thankfully few embrace your fascist mindset.

To you, Karen, I suggest that you hug your cats and go back to wishing for a husband that will love you for your welfare check.

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 5:05am

Karen isn't the one with her panties in a bunch, you are.

Cathy pt 2
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 11:58pm

Ah, yes. Tell others to follow what you want, even though the data shows vast swaths of Michigan are minimally affected. I love how you claim some kind of moral superiority in wanting to keep things closed down, even with huge numbers of real people suffering from these. Insisting on controlling others is not some kind of adult response. That goes along with adolescence as well (if even that far).

middle of the mit
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 7:03pm

It looks as though the GOP is going full steam ahead.

JOHN ROBERTS: Will the nation just have to accept the idea that by reopening there will be more death?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We have to be warriors. We can’t keep our country closed down for years… hopefully that won’t be the case, John, but it could very well be the case.//////

the Daily Beast reports.

Said Abbott: “Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening—whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or of just a reopening of society—in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”

He added: “The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission. The goal never has been to get transmission down to zero.”////

“A senior administration official said he expects the president to begin publicly questioning the death toll as it closes in on his predictions for the final death count and damages him politically.”/////

Rural towns that one month ago were unscathed are suddenly hot spots for the virus. It is rampaging through nursing homes, meatpacking plants and prisons, killing the medically vulnerable and the poor, and new outbreaks keep emerging in grocery stores, Walmarts or factories, an ominous harbinger of what a full reopening of the economy will bring.”///

But have no FEAR! The economy is here!!!

They are telling you what is going to happen and then telling you it won't.

Believe them! They don't care what they know or what they are talking about as long as you start making them more money.

What is your life worth?

They are going to get liability protections. I wonder if they will also get insurance on the workers and be able to collect on that insurance?

Innovation and creativity!

If some are forced to go back to work, ALL should go back. Why should the well off be forced to not be patriots?

Herd immunity for everyone!

Pro-life for the COVID-19 resistant!

I wish that last part was snark. It isn't.

But then again the well off will still be holed up. While everyone else is forced to get sick.

And now I think I am getting sick.

Excuse me.. will you?

Remember........and vote them OUT in November!

Belinda Brewster MD
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 10:36am

I vote that Gretchen Whitmore - our Governor and Joneih Chef Medical Officer for the State of Michigan be awarded the women of the year award for their excellent actions that saved so may lives. They have acted in a responsible fashion to do the right thing at the right time to save the lives of Michiganders during this pandemic that took thousands of lives. And still rising. The death toll not over yet!! At this point in time over Michigan has lost over 4,000 lives. That is a tremendous loss of lives..... I served in 911, tornadoes and many other disasters through the Disaster Medical T Assistance Teams through the US government. I am so impressed at the at the actions that they did the actions that needed to be done in a timely. These 2 women truly need to be recognized as leaders of our country, They saved thousands of lives.....

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 11:32am

Wow -must be a full moon! I would suggest our legislators get out and mingle since they can't seem to pass anything that might do some good, like fixing the roads. Of course there probably aren't many people to mingle with where most of the Republicans come from. Except for a lot of talk I would actually like to see their plan and how it would affect Southeastern MI.

A Yooper
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 1:40pm

The GOP really stands for Gang Of Profiteers.
You screw the 99%ers and whine and snivel like a bunch of toddlers who aren't getting their way.
Is Rick Snyder was still Governor, you would all still be kissing keister.
He couldn't find his rear end with both hands while surrounded with mirrors.
He is off the radar eh? He just crashed and burned like his computer company did.

Dave from Royal Oak
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 2:21pm

The Governor has not shared with the legislators what science she is following, what scientific evidence there is. We all need to see this evidence. People are being financially ruined. We have to open the economy at some point and deal with the outcomes, good or bad. So, just do it.
A bigger question that someone might be able to answer. My understanding is that only Martial Law can suspend our Constitutional Rights, not a State's emergency order. We have lost our Constitutional Rights to free assembly and to freely practice our religion. I am not a moron and I have been paying attention and I know all the arguments, but has the Governor broken the law by taking away our Constitutional Rights. And if I am correct, where is our Attorney General? Has she been advising the Governor on her limits? I am fine if my church wants to suspend services or continue services with me deciding what risks I am willing to take. I am an adult after all.

Doug Brown
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:43am

"Proclaim a state of emergency" in the 1976 Act does not mean extend it forever. The 1976 Act wouldn't have set a 28 day time limit on the governor in one section of the 1976 Act and then totally nullify it another. That's just stupid.