Four sheriffs in Michigan announced Wednesday that they will not enforce parts of the restrictive COVID-19 stay-at-home order recently issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), after the officers concluded that Whitmer may be pushing the bounds of her position.
"We write today to inform the public for our respective counties of our opposition to some of Governor Whitmer's executive orders," the four sheriffs wrote in a letter posted to Twitter. "While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority."
The letter is signed by Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich, Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel, Mainstee County Sheriff Ken Falk, and Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole. "We will deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense in assessing the apparent violation," they said, emphasizing the importance of proper social distancing but questioning the repressive nature of the directive.
Whitmer's order generated a great deal of pushback. It includes a prohibition on large retailers selling allegedly nonessential items, such as paint and outdoor supplies, meaning stores like Home Depot had to tape off those sections from customers. Lawncare services have been temporarily shuttered. With very few exceptions, the order prohibits people from traveling between residences, even to their cottages in the northern part of the state, where there are few COVID-19 cases. Residents of other states, however, may still travel to such properties in Michigan if permitted by their respective home states. Individuals may not use motorboats, but they are authorized to use boats without motors.
The order bans "public and private gatherings of any kind," yet it still allows for the sale of lottery tickets, the proceeds of which go toward funding K-12 education in the state.
Whitmer's order comes as her political profile continues to rise. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently confirmed that he has added her to his shortlist for Vice President. Michigan residents seem less impressed. A slew of protesters descended on the state capitol in Lansing today, disregarding social distancing guidelines in what they called "Operation Gridlock."
"[Whitmer] has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan citizens," the sheriffs wrote. "Each of us took an oath to uphold and defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution, and to ensure that your God given rights are not violated. We believe we are the last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties."