It looks like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is taking another “L” in the conflict over her onerous COVID-19 restrictions.
Michigan’s Supreme Court has struck another devastating blow to the governor’s agenda which involves enacting excessively restrictive measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The court recently ruled against the governor for the second time in one month.
The 4-3 ruling found that the measures that Whitmer issued under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act have “no continuing legal effect.” On Oct. 2, the court found that the orders were unconstitutional. The Republicans on the court formed the majority vote.
Naturally, the leftists on the state court weren’t too happy about the outcome. Justice C.J. McCormack, a Democrat, argued in her dissent that she does not believe the emergency powers act to be “an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power under any reasonable reading of our (or the United States Supreme Court’s) nondelegation jurisprudence.” She alleged that the judges who voted against the orders relied “heavily” on Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s non-binding dissent in Gundy v. the United States.
But the court didn’t only throw one jab at the governor’s restrictions; Indeed, they gave them a veritable one-two punch. In a separate 6-1 ruling, the judges rejected Whitmer’s request to delay the revocation of her orders until Oct. 30.
Democratic Justice Richard Bernstein argued against the decision. “I would have preferred to exercise our discretion and clarify that when this court’s opinion originally entered on Oct. 2, it should not have had immediate precedential effect,” he wrote in his dissent. “I agree with defendants that a delay here could only allow the governor and the Legislature the time to better prepare for an appropriate transition.”
GOP state House Speaker Lee Chatfield celebrated the decision, tweeting, “Another big win at the Supreme Court today!” He continued, “The law is the law, and partisan politics can’t change that. The people will finally have their voices heard in this process. The House is in again tomorrow, and I hope the governor is ready to cooperate. It’s time to work together!”
Gov. Whitmer’s office took issue with the ruling and engaged in the usual fearmongering. Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer’s office, issued a statement arguing that the decision “could potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders losing their unemployment benefits in a matter of days,” since one of the orders dealt with unemployment benefits. She urged the state legislature to re-enact the governor’s order regarding unemployment protections.
After the Supreme Court’s first ruling, Whitmer’s health director, Robert Gordon, found a way around the decision. He implemented an emergency order that included some of the restrictions that Whitmer put in place. The measure requires residents to wear masks and limits indoor gatherings to ten people and non-residences to 500. Outdoor gatherings at residences are capped at 100 people and 1,000 for non-residences.
Currently, there are no legal challenges against Gordon’s order, but the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit organization that opposed Whitmer’s restrictions, indicated that it was reviewing the measure.
“The governor is continuing to sidestep the ruling by maintaining unilateral control over pandemic policies via broad and poorly defined powers granted in statute to a state department. We are currently looking at the legality of the governor’s latest actions,” Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs, told The Detroit News.
Despite Whitmer’s attempt to subvert the Supreme Court’s original ruling, it seems that conservatives in the state’s government have still won a victory. If the opposition presents a challenge to the health director’s restrictions, it seems likely that the court would rule in its favor as well. Whitmer’s actions aren’t as popular as the Democrats, and the corporate media would like the nation to believe. It appears that there are enough people in power to push back against her draconian power grabs.
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