Michigan Supreme Court strikes down Whitmer’s emergency powers

Michigan Supreme Court strikes down Whitmer’s emergency powers

The Michigan Supreme Court ruling means Gov. Gretchen Whitmer must seek legislative approval before extending her emergency executive powers related to COVID-19.

The Michigan Supreme Court declared Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extension of her emergency powers unconstitutional Oct. 2.

The court’s ruling states Whitmer cannot continue declaring new disasters to extend her emergency executive powers beyond the 28-day limit set by the Emergency Management Act of 1976. Further, a majority of the court ruled the legislative powers given to the governor under the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act were unconstitutional.

Whitmer has invoked emergency powers to enforce everything from shutting down restaurants, to banning boating, to deciding which sections of retail stores should be allowed to open. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation brought the lawsuit against Whitmer, representing three medical practices who were unable to see patients during the shutdown.

The Michigan legislature voted to renew Whitmer’s emergency powers for 23 days in April. But they have not approved additional extensions since then. The governor ignored that lack of approval and continued to enforce major policy decisions via executive order.

What happens next? According to the ruling, the governor will be forced to work with the state legislature on all future COVID-19 orders beginning Oct. 23.

“Our decision leaves open many avenues for the governor and Legislature to work together to address this challenge, and we hope that this will take place,” Justice Stephen Markman wrote in the majority opinion.

Whitmer shot back against the ruling, saying she “vehemently” disagreed and that her executive orders would “continue under alternative sources of authority.” It’s unclear what alternate sources the governor is referencing.

What the ruling does make clear is that checks and balances are a cornerstone of Michigan’s democracy, and lawmakers should respect them – especially in a crisis.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!