The Michigan Supreme Court struck down the extension of a coronavirus state of emergency because Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not have the power to continue the existing order.
The court ruled the Emergency Management Act from 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act have no bearing on how states of emergency are declared and interpreted in Michigan.
Whitmer recently extended the state of emergency, which was first issued in early April. Prior to that, the Republican-majority state legislature voted to prevent Whitmer from renewing that declaration.
“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,” Justice Stephen J. Markman wrote in the majority opinion.
“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,” Markman continued.
“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,” reads a footnote in the ruling.
Whitmer regretted the decision and predicted the state’s coronavirus rate will begin to climb to numbers similar to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.”