The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday struck down months of authoritarian lockdown orders by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that the power-hungry Democrat claimed were aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The court said that the Nazi-era law Whitmer had cited to assert her emergency powers was unconstitutional.
The decision marked an extraordinary development in a monthslong conflict between Whitmer and the Republicans who control the Legislature.
Since Whitmer first moved on her efforts to consolidate power under the auspices of the pandemic, GOP lawmakers in Lansing have been shut out of major orders that have restricted education, the economy and health care while granting special exemptions to marijuana dispensaries, abortion clinics and the recreational pursuits of Whitmer’s boat-loving husband.
Coincidentally, the court’s opinion emerged on the same day that Whitmer’s critics submitted more than 539,000 signatures in a bid to repeal the 1945 law.
For six months, the governor has imposed restrictions on Michigan’s economy, K-12 school system, health care and even visits to state parks.
Amid sharp criticism and mass protests that included an armed takeover of the state capitol, Whitmer subsequently eased the lockdown mandates, but she maintained the discretion to re-implement them at any time, even with the former Trump-backing state poised to play a key role in the upcoming election.
Republicans said Whitmer should have used a 1976 law, which gives lawmakers a say in any emergency declarations after 28 days.
In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court said the 1945 public safety law used by Whitmer granted Michigan governors unchecked authority.
“That act is an unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution,” Justice Stephen Markman wrote. “Accordingly, the executive orders issued by the governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law.”