'This Was Avoidable': Michigan Republicans Sue Governor Over Emergency Response to Coronavirus

Some lawmakers allege that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has overstepped the bounds of her authority.


Michigan's Republican-controlled House and Senate filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), alleging that she overstepped her authority when she extended her COVID-19 state of emergency without the legislature's permission. 

"We've attempted to partner with our governor, but she's rejected. We offered cooperation, but instead she chose court," tweeted Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R–Levering). "This was avoidable, but today we filed a lawsuit in our state to challenge her unconstitutional actions. The law in Michigan is clear, and nobody is above it."

Whitmer became somewhat of a household name with her ambitiously strict stay-at-home directive, which included a collection of seemingly arbitrary rules. Big box retailers were prohibited from selling "nonessential" goods like paint and plants, forcing them to block off those aisles from customers. The order suspended lawn care services, prevented individuals from traveling between their own residences, and banned "all public and private gatherings." Four sheriffs in the state publicly declined to enforce parts of it, and Whitmer eventually rolled back those restrictions.

"We extended our hand to the governor last week and offered several times to work with her to improve the state's response and improve the status quo that is hurting so many people," Chatfield said in a statement. "She rejected that offer and chose to go it alone, in a way that is against the law. We have to stand up for the people we represent, their concerns, and their legal rights. This lawsuit will bring everyone back to the table and ensure a better, bipartisan solution to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Chatfield and Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R–Clarkdale) contend that they would have approved an extension on Whitmer's state of emergency declaration had she been willing to compromise on some of the state's lockdown measures. 

"This lawsuit is just another partisan game that won't distract the governor. Her number one priority is saving lives," Tiffany Brown, Whitmer's press secretary, said in a statement. "She's making decisions based on science and data, not political or legal pressure."

At the core of the conflict are differing interpretations of Michigan's two laws pertaining to emergency executive authority: the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 and the Emergency Management Act of 1976. The former does not require that a sitting governor ask for permission from the legislature to extend a state of emergency, but the latter mandates that he or she do so after 28 days, a mark that Whitmer has hit. That deadline is complicated by a clause in the 1976 legislation, which states that the law "shall not be construed to … limit, modify or abridge the authority of the governor to proclaim a state of emergency" as laid out under the 1945 act.

Predictably, legal minds are split on which interpretation will prevail. Bruce Timmons, a Republican lawyer on the Michigan House Judiciary Committee, has been widely cited in the press as saying the GOP doesn't have a case, though it's worth noting that, in the same interview, he said he hasn't researched the subject and was operating off of his "gut instinct." As Reason's Jacob Sullum writes, judges themselves are by no means unified on just how far lockdowns can go before serious constitutional questions come up.

Whitmer has consistently defended even her strictest measures, telling Michael Barbaro at The New York Times that she thinks the widely-criticized prohibitions in her earlier order were appropriate. "[Whitmer] has brought together leaders in health care, business, labor, and education to develop the MI Safe Start plan to re-engage our economy in a way that protects our workers and their families," Brown said in her statement today. But some lawmakers feel that there's a core group left out of that partnership: the legislature.

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  1. …he said he hasn’t researched the subject and was operating off of his “gut instinct.”

    Sounds like a crackerjack government attorney.

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  2. “Her number one priority is saving lives”.
    And boy, she’s doing great at that. So much so that Michigan is somewhere around double the National average in COVID deaths/100k residents. Ban everything!

    1. Governor Karen needs to be taken down a few notches.

  3. The laws themselves are unconstitutional. Ditch the bitch. They should start impeachment proceedings or a recall.

    1. Sure looks that way. I just looked through the Michigan constitution. Could not find any granting of emergency powers to their executive branch. (Some states grant such powers in their constitutions.) So such powers were granted by statute and are therefore limited in their scope by the Michigan and US constitutions. Sure looks like she walked all over a bunch of rights which a statute should not be able to over-ride. Well, except where courts find modifying clauses in invisible ink.

    2. Hard to initiate a recall when you’d be arrested if you tried collecting the petition signatures.

      1. Can’t they do it by mail?

        1. Recall petitions are currently circulating.

        2. You can only vote (D) by mail, not recall a (D) governor.

  4. The later enacted Michigan “Emergency Management Act” states: “The governor shall, by executive order or proclamation, declare a state of disaster if he or she finds a disaster has occurred or the threat of a disaster exists. The state of disaster shall continue until the governor finds that the threat or danger has passed, the disaster has been dealt with to the extent that disaster conditions no longer exist, or until the declared state of disaster has been in effect for 28 days. After 28 days, the governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation declaring the state of disaster terminated, unless a request by the governor for an extension of the state of disaster for a specific number of days is approved by resolution of both houses of the legislature.”

    1. So she didn’t have any power to do anything. The act clearly states “a disaster has occurred or the threat of a disaster exists”. Most people know what ‘disaster’ means, and whatever COVID-19 is, it is not a disaster. If they meant pandemic, they should have said disaster or pandemic.

      1. Since ‘disaster’ isn’t defined in any meaningful way, taken as read it means the Governor can do basically whatever the fuck they want. For 28 days, anyway, then they need to ask permission.

        1. 28 days? Rag time, no?

          1. Now THAT’S a disaster.

        2. After 28 days, the governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation declaring the state of disaster terminated 365 days is after 28 days, right?

    2. Caveat: I’m a lawyer, but an average one at best.

      But it seems to me it’s not that hard to reconcile to two statutes, at least based on the snippets in the article above. The 1976 one says that it “shall not be construed to … limit, modify or abridge the authority of the governor to proclaim a state of emergency” as laid out under the 1945 act?

      Okay—keyword is “proclaim.” The 1976 law doesn’t limit the ability to “proclaim” a state of emergency—just to perpetually extend it. I think those can easily co-exist.

      1. Correct. And when a specific provision in a later law conflicts with a more general provision in an earlier law, the specific provision should prevail. Otherwise, what was the point in passing it?

  5. Oh, and if she is reelected, Michigan residents and her deserve each other. I can think of no more appropriate punishment.

    1. Like most states the large city tail wags the out-state dog. Detroit Metro, Flint, Saginaw are the old auto rust belt, replete with a history of government largesse an a union pestilence to make you blush. Don’t paint us Yoopers with your Democrat brush. The twat comes up here she’ll find a bounty on her

  6. I think a lamppost and a rope is more appropriate than a lawsuit in this case.

    1. That only creates martyrs. How about tar and feathers, a fine American liberty tradition.

      1. They’re not on Michigan’s list of “essential items”.

        1. How about wood chippers? I see they are available for store pickup in the Lansing area.

      2. I mean, they’ll likely die from that, too….albeit in a much more painful way, so I like your moxie there, lol.

  7. They just hate her because she’s a woman in a position of authority.

    1. “They” hate the governor of South Dakota because she’s a woman in a position of authority who dared to rely on residents to exercise personal responsibility.

      1. But she is hot as hell

        1. You’ve been locked down too long, my friend.

          1. I think he was talking about Krisi Noem, not Whitmer…

            1. the evil witch whitmer does have a nice pair of milkers

        2. Don’t stick it in crazy, friend

    2. Plus she’s a “survivor”.

      1. Yeah? But how well would she do on The Apprentice?

  8. So, banning the sale of “paint and plants” and other “nonessential” stuff in stores that are otherwise open is what they consider “making decisions based on science and data”?

    Haha. Ok. Makes sense.

    1. NONE of the lockdown is based on science. NOTHING. It was straight from the get-go based on faulty science and governments panicked. The SECOND we began to understand the virus more we had to OPEN lest the unintended consequences swallow us whole.

      You want to pant shit? Stay home. If you’re going to shame people into wearing masks and social distancing produce EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE it works.

      If not, you’re NOT FOLLOWING THE SCIENCE and you can all go fuck yourselves.

      1. So much all of this. The lockdown people were all about THE SCIENCE right up until we started getting actual data instead of relying on the models.

        1. And even with strong science, science doesn’t tell you what you should do. Only what is likely to happen given particular conditions. And usually in a pretty narrow way too. Knowing how many people are likely to die from a virus given X and Y is only a small part of what you need to know to make decisions. Science is mostly good at looking at things in relative isolation. We’re getting better at analysing complex systems, but still a long way to go.

      2. The Science(TM)

  9. See the smile on her face in the picture? That’s how you know Sleepy Joe has successfully implemented phase two of his test for VP, or what some might refer to as ‘1 in the stink’.

    Tyrants deserve nothing but ridicule and scorn.

    1. Shocker.

  10. “This lawsuit is just another partisan game that won’t distract the governor. Her number one priority is saving lives,”

    And if it means killing more people through collateral damage so be it.

    Low IQ logic.

  11. “She’s making decisions based on science and data, not political or legal pressure.”

    Yeah, but unfortunately “science and data” have no legal authority under the political system of Michigan. Nobody gives a shit if you’re basing your decisions on science, God, haruspicy, or the voices in your head, you’re constrained by the law in the exercise of your political office.

    1. It’s clear the virus is a bitch. But common sense is sorely missing.

      You want the lockdown to continue? Everyone takes a 20% payout. Share in the pain for real. Then let’s see how you really about granny.

      1. paycut. Fricken auto-spell.

    2. Her authority as governor is political and legal. A chief executive who rules without consideration to the political and legal is a tyrant who deserves rebellion.

  12. Stop electing democrats and RINOS.

  13. It seems to ee that a lawsuit is small potato’s when they should probably impeach her, but I guess Michigan Republicans aren’t terribly serious either.

    1. Like federal impeachment, in Michigan impeaching the governor requires a supermajority vote of the legislature. The Democrats could easily block it.

  14. The right-wing malcontents in Pennsylvania have been litigating in Pennsylvania, too. And losing every step of the way. The Supreme Court shot them down today.

    Perhaps they will file an appeal with Pres. Trump tomorrow. After that . . . sweet baby Jesus?

    1. You can’t seem to spell “people with principles”, asshole bigot.

    2. “Malcontents”? Nothing to say about Whitmer?

      Haha. This is how we know you’re a parody. Don’t change a thing, rev. You excel at making progs look retarded.

    3. Ah, the Human Hemorrhoid is back.

    4. It never seems like oppression when you are the oppressor, or agree with them, does it?

  15. “She’s making decisions based on science and data, not political or legal pressure.”

    That’s the most hilarious thing ever.

    If this cunt really believed in science, 1) she wouldn’t be demanding that the hamlet of East Bumfuck with 100 people and 0 cornaviruses be under the same restricted as the crowded cities, and 2) she wouldn’t still be deliberately trying to mislead and terrify the average idiots in her state who are too lazy or ignorant to look up the real world data for themselves into believing that this stupid virus is like Smallpox or the Black Plague.

    1. They don’t actually understand the real sciences. Just the ones on the liberal-arts side of the university that let them claim that up, is down, left is right, men are women, etc.

  16. Use the only effective means available; Loudly and publicly boycott the MI lottery until she resigns. Not just until the panic eases, until she resigns.
    Democrats only listen to money, so speak money. Lose enough lottery money, and even the teacher’s union will bail on her.

    1. there’s an idea. The legislature handles the purse strings, right? It would be a shame if the MI Governor’s annual income went to $0. Maybe then she’d start seeing it from other people’s perspectives

      1. I’m sure the union goons that elected her have her on payroll, going after her state check probably wouldn’t be effective.

  17. Now do Newsom.

    1. And Michelle Lujan Grisham

  18. i don’t understand. we know who it kills. why don’t we simply give those likely to die a monthly check to stay in relative isolation. maybe move to a certain part of town. maybe draw redlines around it so the the rest of us can stay out.
    needs a catchy name.

    then the rest of us can get on with opening er up.

    i feel like that is where its headed, but nobody will say.

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  21. SO this is how it works now huh? Simply throw your masks on, grab your guns, and go get in the face of the legislature whenever you have beef, then have the President say that the legislature in question should “make a deal” with the armed “protestors.” OK, so is this what we do now for every issue?

    “I don’t like taxes, so…..I’m just gonna go down there with my AR-15 and we’ll make a deal” etc. etc.

    “I believe Jesus rode dinosaurs and I don’t want that hippie lady teaching my kids otherwise, so…I’m just gonna grab my AR and head down to the Statehouse” etc. etc.

    1. You realize that people tried going through legislative channels first and the Governor told them to fuck off, right?

      And people have a right to carry guns in public, they also have a right to protest, get over it.

      You’re also describing how the state solves all of it’s problems, by sending men with guns to “negotiate”. Care to explain how it’s totally cool when they do it?

      1. Its cool because the State’s goons with guns get to claim qualified (read: complete) immunity…

      2. Haha ok bro. Now tell me what you think would happen if BLM folks decided to exercise their 1st and 2A rights in this exact fashion in order to protest the abuses of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments. Just try with a straight face to claim that it would be cool with you and nothing bad would go down.

        1. It’d be cool with me.

          I have no idea how it would “go down” though. Hopefully not like the one in Baltimore—they did enough damage there without weapons.

        2. Glad you asked.

          Armed Black Panthers march in Texas [and nothing happens]

          A group of armed members of the New Black Panther Party marched on the Waller County Jail Wednesday afternoon chanting “The revolution is on… Off the pigs,” and “Oink Oink… Bang Bang!” The group of about fifteen Black Panthers exercised their First and Second Amendment rights…
          The Black Panthers marched into the street in front of the jail chanting “Whose streets?… Our streets!” Many of the members of the group were armed with shotguns, hunting rifles and AR-15 style assault rifles. Most looked like they were simply holding the weapon they were carrying…

          Despite a very tense situation, no violence broke out and no one was arrested during the afternoon protest.

    2. This article is about a lawsuit attempting to rein in allegedly excessive executive action. Yes, I think asking the judicial branch to interpret laws is “how it works now.”

      1. Yes I’m sure there’s no connection between that and the little “trial balloon” of armed protesters from a few days ago. No connection whatsoever…..(!)

        1. Of course there’s a connection—objecting to executive overreach.

          That doesn’t mean “filing suit” is identical to other approaches. This is still how it works. Legal process.

    3. fuck off slaver

  22. Trump to announce new coronavirus task force Monday. You heard it here first….will anyone be surprised if the lady from the “Plandemic” viral video is in charge now?

  23. That’s a lot of botox for someone who is supposed to be staying at home.

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