Michigan Supreme Court Strikes Down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 Executive Orders

Whitmer helped spark a national debate over the limits of executive power.


The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that a series of executive orders put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to combat COVID-19 were unconstitutional and are now invalid under Michigan law.

The Democratic governor's directives were an "unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution," wrote Justice Stephen J. Markman.

Over the course of the pandemic, Whitmer sparked a great deal of debate over how much power a state's executive branch should have in addressing a public health crisis. The governor's April stay-at-home order prohibited "all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household." It banned the in-store sale of paint, outdoor goods, and other allegedly nonessential items at big-box retail stores, so those establishments were forced to block off certain aisles to customers. In most cases, it disallowed travel between Michigan residences, including to vacation homes in the northern area of the state. It shuttered lawn care services, despite research suggesting that the virus is much harder to transmit outdoors. It made it illegal to use motorboats, though residents could use boats without motors.

Lottery sales, however, were deemed essential, likely because the proceeds help fund the state's public schools.

Whitmer rolled back those restrictions at the end of April, not long after four Michigan sheriffs issued a public letter saying they wouldn't be enforcing several of her regulations. But the governor continued to issue orders as she saw fit. At one point she issued an executive order requiring stricter enforcement of her executive orders, which includes a provision that allows the government to weaponize licensing power against businesses.

Republicans sued in May. As I wrote then:

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 [EPGA] of 1945 and the Emergency Management Act [EMA] 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.

"This lawsuit is just another partisan game that won't distract the governor," Tiffany Brown, Whitmer's press secretary, declared at the time.

But the state's highest court disagreed. It said the governor overstepped the bounds of her authority when she declared a state of emergency after that first 28-day mark. But even if that weren't the case, it wouldn't have mattered, because court also ruled the 1945 emergency powers statute unconstitutional.

"We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a 'state of emergency' or a 'state of disaster' under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic," the court said. "Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA 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."

NEXT: The Post-Pandemic ‘New Normal’ Looks Awfully Authoritarian

Coronavirus Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Courts Executive Power

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89 responses to “Michigan Supreme Court Strikes Down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 Executive Orders

  1. Democrats and their Party of slavery are going down this election.

    1. I sure hope you are right; while it will be a relief to see Barrett confirmed, I was reading a summary of the Biden Harris gun control plan last night, and I will most surely be rendered a felon by passive default if they prevail. Not going to register and pay $200 per magazine with more than a 10 round limit, never mind the weapons for which they are made.

      At a minimum I will be happy when she is confirmed and if Republicans at least keep the Senate so as to prevent passage of such draconian laws and efforts at diluting the federal judiciary so as to give them the political advantage they so desire.

      1. Be sure to run out and buy and register a (relatively) cheap .22 rifle to surrender when the gun grabbers show up.
        I bought one when this registration nonsense started, a bolt action .22LR I used to teach my son to shoot, and then put under the bed, never to be used again.

        1. I have an unserviceable rifle for them.

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        2. I’m going to give them a bag of dildos, they can grab all the guns they want from that.

          1. This is my rifle, this is my gun….

            1. Full Metal Jacket, two movies in one….

    2. I would love for that to be correct, but reality says it won’t happen. Wishes help you sleep better at night, but they don’t change the world.

      1. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Considering containers that can be sealed and buried as necessary.

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  2. She will just appeal it, or ignore it. Tyrants don’t obey their own laws.

    1. Believe she said something about ignoring the ruling using other sources of authority or something.

      1. The bitch [I reside in said State] f’n loves the power her executive orders confer; I fully she will ignore it and, sadly, with the support of every Democrat in the State. She wants to rule, and they want to be ruled. Right now it is “save us from the pandemic” but I can guarantee you it will progress to “other areas of concern.”

        1. I want her to try it with the climate “crisis” as it relates to auto manufacturing in the state. Not sure I’ve got enough popcorn for that one.

        2. I reside in Michigan also. AG Nessel said that the AG’s office will not enforce Whitmer’s unconstitutional executive orders. Whitmer is claiming that the 21-day period for seeking reconsideration of a court order is actually a grace period. It isn’t. The Supreme Court’s order is effective immediately.

          What bothers me is how the Oakland County Health Department issued its own order on Saturday that basic repeats Whitmer’s EO. The debate is whether the county has that authority. It remains to be seen if other counties run by democrats follow suit. What I’ve seen personally is local stores doubling-down on their mask mandates.

          1. “…local stores doubling-down on their mask mandates”

            So have I. Comply is the order of the day.

      2. This is the case.

  3. Hope springs eternal!

  4. More heroes to add to my list.

    Oppose these left wing wannabe dictator scumbags and their total war on America, by any means necessary.

  5. The evil bitch just requested a rehearing which will delay the court’s order for 21 days. Then she is still not going to lift any of the restrictions because she claims she can do it using a different justification. She is an absolute lawless tyrant at this point. I am glad the court did this. But I am skeptical that it is going to make much of a difference. She is just going to ignore the order.

    1. But remember: it’s republicans who break all the rules of democracy and make a mockery of the court system.

    2. She is an absolute lawless tyrant at this point.

      This is true, but she means well* and good intentions trump the Constitution.

      *Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster

      1. Thanks for the quote!

      2. “The road to hell is [paved with] good intentions.” Samuel Johnson

    3. I’m no fan of the French but they had a rather elegant and efficient way of dealing with people like her.

      1. Hold up a white flag?

        1. directional farts.

          1. LOL! You win the Reason comments board today man.

      2. The Italians have more flair, though. These fuckers deserve the Mussolini treatment.

        1. It would be the only thing that causes even hesitation when they consider doing it again

        2. I can accept multiple solutions to the problem.

          As long as whatever we do is very public and extremely painful I think we’re on the right track.

    4. So what happens when she doesn’t abide by the order? If I were to simply ignore a court order, I’d be in prison. Does something similar happen to her?

      1. We really need criminal penalties for politicians who defy orders like this. Funny how if you commit any number of ordinary unlawful acts you will do time, but if you violate the supreme law of the state or country, you face no personal consequences unless voters decide to drop you in the next election.

        1. Which isn’t much of a consequence.
          Certainly not enough to prevent tyrants seizing power.

    5. Phailing Phil Murphy is doing the same thing here in the People’s Republic of NJ. The man is a loathsome tyrant.

  6. “Gretchen” even sounds like an evil witch’s name.

    1. The Gretch Who Stole Summer.

      1. “Picnics! And bike-rides! Restaurants! And races!
        Concerts! Swimming! And running the bases!
        And she stuffed them in masks. Then the Gretch, very nimbly,
        Stuffed all the people, one by one, up the chimbley!”

  7. That photo needs a caption. What happened to alt text?

    1. “Unfortunately, not a SNL skit.”

    2. Alt text: Nice jacket. Very National Socialist.

    3. Alt Text: Pearl Clutcher in Chief

  8. The way I read it the courts didn’t rule on the content of the orders, just the origin. So if the legislature does it then it’s kosher.

    1. Likewise.

    2. Who needs the legislature? The MI Dept of Health and Human Services immediately reinstated the restrictions. There’s just no quit in Fascism.

  9. Oh, and John would.

  10. Now if they could just order the state police to remove her from office and haul her away in chains, to be arraigned at some future date.

    1. No reason the same Republicans who brought the suit cannot bring impeachment proceedings, is there?

    2. After months of being force fed snatch.

  11. Anagram for Gretchen Whitmer: Nether Germ Witch

  12. The courts are the last line of defense for the people against an overreaching government. I’m actually kind of shocked it (sort of) held here.

    1. Next to the last; “shall not be infringed”.

    2. Not all the courts. See the courts changing voter rules based on their fear of Covid.

  13. Gretchen Gute-Frau, in Hitler’s Germany, would have been a staunch supporter of the regime.

  14. No way the CA court is going to tell Newsom to stuff it, for shame.

    1. the voters might, but luckily for him he’s not up for reelection this time. he’s about as popular as a moldy water leak in your new 1.5 million dollar condo.

      1. Newsom is prepping for his 2024 presidential run. He likes his chances if TrumpO wins 2020. Otherwise he will have to take a back seat to incumbent Harris.

  15. “At one point she issued an executive order requiring stricter enforcement of her executive orders”

    Gretchen, Josef Stalin called. He said you might be taking things a little too far.

    1. just be thankful she had the wrong skin tone for Biden to pick her as VP

      1. True that; this is what she has been hoping for all along and why she has strived to “stand out” for “doing something”

    2. Certain officials from many state and local jurisdictions, Newsom, Whitmer, Lightfoot, de Blasio, Pritzker, and others from around the country are members of an emerging political mafia. They are characterized by the application of their personal political biases (which are dictatorial and authoritarian in nature) when issuing draconian edicts that mainly harm lower and middle working classes while blaming the harmful effects on political enemies; the doubling-down in the face of defiance with even more spitefully draconian edicts; and the publicly flaunting of their own rules with their own privileged behavior and a big FUCK YOU if you don’t like it.

      These are the fuckers that are in control. They can’t vote them out, because clones of them are the only other candidates in certain states. This is the next generation of national leaders.

      1. If they can’t be voted out people must take them out by any means necessary. Unfortunately I don’t see those size balls too often anymore.

        1. ….flaunting the flouting of their own rules.

        2. Root out the radical intellectuals first.

  16. “This lawsuit is just another partisan game that won’t distract the governor,” Tiffany Brown, Whitmer’s press secretary, declared at the time.

    Does Michigan’s constitution even have a FYTW clause?

    1. NJ’s certainly does.

  17. Heil Whitmer!

  18. Too bad. She was a real rising star in the dnc.

    1. Who says she still isn’t? Most Democrats I know have orgasms over this stuff.

        1. That is disqualifying. You know, to help combat racism.

  19. Binion, that is some journalism, devoid of hand-wringing, hyperbole, whinging on, supposition. You will never get a job with the shitty cocktail part circuit like this.

    Also, speaking of governors and executive abuse, Emperor Andy is up to his regular antics from a local NY news report:

  20. Female politicians would never act like the petty tyrants of the Patriarchy.

  21. Like a true Marxist, she has issued some 180 or more executive orders and you need a lawyer to figure out which is what. It’s a joke. The “fake emergency” keeps getting extended and now is in force until the end of the month. In over 7 months, I have not known one person who has gotten sick, let alone die. Over the last few years, about 58-60 million people have passed on each year on the planet and in 2020, extrapolating the numbers from the first 9 months, about 59 million or a bit more will die. So where is the pandemic adding millions to the yearly death toll? There is no real Covid since many deaths are being called Covid when they are normal deaths that would occur in any given year from things like TB, pneumonia and other respiratory/lung issues. It’s a 98% farce and people just buy the fake TV news lock, stock and barrel.

    1. In over 7 months, I have not known one person who has gotten sick, let alone die.

      I officially know (personally) my first Coronavirus case. Felt a little under the weather for a couple days, then back to normal.

      1. I know one person who had it in Mach. Same deal. And he’s even over 60 and kind of fat and has had a bunch of health problems.

      2. I work in health care and have seen a number of people with it; some, mostly aged and with health problems, die; most recover, though sometimes with lingering effects. My advice is avoid contracting it [wear mask in public, always sanitize your hands after you’ve been out], and wait for a vaccine]. That’s just good sense, and the majority of us don’t need an overreaching government to make us do that.

        1. People NEVER need to be forced to do the smart thing. Why? It’s not smart to violate a persons sovereignty. Being free means free to choose unwisely.
          Fun fact: Today’s unhealthy choice is tomorrow’s healthy choice. Once is was common practice for doctors to bleed out the evil spirits to cure. People who rejected it were sometimes forced to have it done, resulting in their death. When it was exposed that the forced treatment was harmful, it was justified as “done in good faith”. Can it ever be called “good faith” to force your beliefs on others? If you claim that practicality justifies it, you are assuming the belief is true, which it may not be, even when 99% believe. Forced compliance punishes the 1%. and violates everybody’s rights.

  22. Cupid stunt!

  23. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

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  24. When a governor violates the constitution and rights of all who live under her rule, what is the remedy? When the governors of other states do the same, and ignore the evidence in less dictatorial states that their excuse of public safety is contradicted by the evidence, what is the remedy? When the majority ignore the tyranny by supporting the governors, what protection is democracy? None, obviously. That’s why a republic is better than a democracy, at least in theory. Can any society survive a coercive govt. by popular demand? None have historically. Maybe there is a good reason. Maybe the politics of initiation of force negates social stability, equality, and justice. But we won’t know for sure until a non-violent, reason based politics is tried somewhere. Coercive governments worldwide fear this and call it anarchy and chaos. They won’t allow a democracy to choose it.

  25. And then the Dept of Health and Human Services immediately reinstated all the current restrictions. There’s just no quit in Fascism.

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