Michigan gyms to open Thursday as judge won’t budge on Whitmer appeal

Michigan gyms can open on Thursday after a federal judge says he won't stay his Friday decision that allows them to open. (Shutterstock)

June 24: Last-minute ruling keeps Michigan gyms closed, hours before they could reopen

Michigan gyms can still open on Thursday, after a federal judge declined Monday to halt his order while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeals the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Whitmer asked U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney to stay his Friday decision to allow fitness centers to reopen. He refused, writing that Whitmer failed to prove she has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on appeal or that the public would be irreparably harmed in the meantime. 

The court “sought only some rational basis for the continued closure of indoor gyms while other similar businesses may open,” but Whitmer couldn’t provide that, Maloney wrote in the decision.

The decision comes two days after Maloney ruled that state attorneys didn’t give enough evidence to justify keeping gyms closed while bars, restaurants, salons and other businesses with high levels of public contact were allowed to open. 

“Counsel could not articulate a reason beyond the bare assertion that gyms are dangerous,” Malone wrote in the Friday ruling. “This Court fully recognizes that the bar is extremely low, but it is not that low. Defendants cannot rely on the categorization of gyms as ‘dangerous,’ without a single supporting fact, to uphold their continued closure.”

Whitmer’s office pledged to appeal and immediately requested that the court stay the decision while they do so. 

Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown told Bridge Friday that Maloney is “playing a dangerous role [he] should not play: second-guessing and upending the data-informed decisions that have saved thousands of lives in Michigan.”

Maloney, a former chief judge of the federal bench’s Michigan’s Western District, was appointed in 2007 by then-President George W. Bush.

The case disputes a provision of an executive order shutting down “indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities, exercise studios, and the like.” 

It wasn’t immediately clear Monday if indoor pools in gyms, which Whitmer ordered closed, would be allowed to open even if the rest of the fitness center is allowed to reopen. Outdoor pools have been allowed to be open at half capacity since June 8.

The case, filed in late May by a trade organization for fitness center owners, is one of the most successful challenges to Whitmer’s emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

A Court of Claims judge in May sided with Whitmer in a case challenging her ability to extend the state of emergency without the Legislature’s approval.

 

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Comments

Kevin Grand
Mon, 06/22/2020 - 6:23pm

Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown told Bridge Friday that Maloney is “playing a dangerous role [he] should not play: second-guessing and upending the data-informed decisions that have saved thousands of lives in Michigan.”

For a governor who loves to claim she is basing her decisions on "facts and data", does anyone else find it odd that she NEVER wants to cite these "sources"?

It's been long enough for her to cite something.

The fact that no reporters have followed up on this is also troubling.

Idk
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 12:50pm

Exactly! Thank you.

Anonymous
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 1:18pm

I'm not directing this at Judge Maloney, but it is not uncommon for judges to ignore evidence presented in order to achieve a particular outcome.

Jake K
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 8:50am

Without the "data" mentioned by Tiffany Brown, it would appear as though the evidence hinges on Whitmer's "because I said so," rationale.
And our AG continues to pursue a 77-year old barber and others who flouted their orders. while defending the "essential services" of abortion clinics? Shameful.

CM
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 8:54am

Data?? Please require the Governor share data.
Decision after decision the governor has cited data ... where is this data?
Remember Whitmer stating, lotto sales are essential and filling your gas tank is unsafe (that's why landscapers couldn't work). Abortions are essential and all other medical procedures are not.

John Squires
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 12:54pm

The data she is using is comparing our Covid-19 cases to all the other states. What the governor did worked. Of course, that is not good enough for her critics in the Legislature. Whoever she relied upon for her response to the pandemic must have known what they were doing. Otherwise we would look like Arizona and Florida who essentially did nothing for a long time and have huge new numbers of deaths and cases, even as we speak.

Joey
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 1:17pm

This article is a bit misleading. Other district court judges, both in the Western District of Michigan where this case originated and the Eastern District of Michigan, are NOT required to follow this decision. A different district court judge can rule the other way (and I suspect most in the Eastern District of Michigan would). The only federal courts that can bind the entire State of Michigan are the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the Supreme Court. So, this is merely the opinion of one judge, and is only binding for the time being with respect to those gym-plaintiffs in that particular case. This matter will be decided by the Sixth Circuit, and quite possibly the Supreme Court. Stay tuned!

Lorraine Cooper
Wed, 06/24/2020 - 10:04am

The Judge that dismissed Whitmer’s gym order does not have Michigan’s citizens best interests at heart, nor do the individuals that have recall petitions in the works, she has saved lives by her restrictions including those that oppose her, they are putting money before lives! They need to go, I would never support them nor the anti-mask, anti-social distancing, anti-vac individuals, what is wrong with people, global pandemic, not paranoia for those of us that are wise enough to recognize the danger...the rest ignorant, arrogant, entitlement mentality...

Kevin Grand
Wed, 06/24/2020 - 11:41am

Mr. Zeman...ahem!

Remember YOUR own piece just a few days ago?

Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.