Law school students at the University of Michigan have filed a lawsuit against the state’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on behalf of Michigan timeshare owner Lyn Allen over the governor’s now expired stay-home order that prohibited citizens from travel “between residences.”
Under Whitmer’s rule, Allen was legally barred from travelling to her own property in northern Michigan despite having self-isolated for 14 days with no symptoms of the novel Wuhan coronavirus. The order, however, only applied to Michigan residents. This allowed the timeshare’s co-owners from Indiana to freely venture to the property, but not Allen, who was forced to remain in Detroit’s Wayne County, which has reported the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state.
The plaintiffs, Allen and Cincinnatus, LLC, argue in the suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that Whitmer’s order barring individuals to travel between properties was unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection provisions under both federal and state constitutions.
“This suit is solely about the government’s arbitrary infringement on fundamental rights,” law school student Jacob Weaver said in a Monday statement. “Even during a crisis, a governor must act within the limits of the Constitution.”
Plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgement and damages of $1.00. Outside attorneys Philip Ellison, Matthew Gronda, and Andrew Fink will be officially representing the plaintiffs alongside the University of Michigan students to litigate the case.
Last week, Whitmer extended the state’s shelter-in-place order but eased prior restrictions that had put Michigan under the strictest government lockdown in the country. In addition to barring residential travel, Whitmer had banned the sales of gardening seeds and paint, sparking mass protests in the capitol of Lansing and a refusal from several county sheriffs to enforce the draconian measures.
Michigan has now reported nearly 40,000 confirmed cases of the virus with nearly 3,500 deaths, as of this writing. That’s cases representing 0.4 percent of Michigan’s 10 million population.