Michigan Drops Charges Against Barber After Court Strikes Down Whitmer COVID-19 Restrictions

Michigan Office of the Governor via AP


At least one Michigan resident is already enjoying the result of the state’s Supreme Court’s ruling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions. State prosecutors have dropped misdemeanor charges against a barber who opened his shop in May in violation of Whitmer’s lockdown orders. 

The state moved to drop charges against Karl Manke after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Whitmer’s emergency lockdown orders unconstitutional. “Our client is thrilled and pleased that he has been vindicated,” Manke’s attorney David Kallman told reporters. 

Manke was facing multiple fines and his license was suspended. The barber’s license was reinstated in June, but an open formal complaint against him remains. His attorneys are trying to get the complaint removed. 

The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 against Whitmer’s authority to continuously implement consecutive emergency declarations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the [1976 Emergency Management Act] after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the court argued. “Furthermore, we conclude that the [1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act] is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government – including its plenary police powers – and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely. As a consequence, the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers.”

Whitmer has somewhat subverted this setback by having the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issue new orders to keep in place limits on public gatherings, mask requirements, and other restrictions. However, the rest of the measures she imposed are no longer in effect. 

Even so, it seems that the tide is turning in the conflict between the governor and Michigan residents who are tired of excessive restrictions. It is not yet clear when the Supreme Court will address the orders put in place by the Health and Human Services Department, but it seems that when they do, it will bring about a similar result. 

Other governors have also used the pandemic to impose onerous measures on their citizens. But Whitmer seems to be the worst offender, which is likely why there was so much resistance to her actions. Perhaps this will be the start of other challenges to COVID-19 restrictions in other states. 


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