Michigan Republican lawmakers unveiled a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order overreach in the name of coronavirus. Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey announced their plan during a press conference at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges Whitmer asserted executive-branch overreach and is thereby ignoring the State Constitution.
“The Michigan Legislature seeks to defend Michigan’s constitutional system and the Legislature’s role as the sole lawmaking body is that system,” the lawsuit reads. “[Whitmer], the head of the executive branch, has the power to execute Michigan’s laws, not to usurp them.”
The lawsuit also says Whitmer refused to collaborate with the Legislature on issues of COVID-19 and implemented policies that intruded and restricted the day-to-day well being of Michiganders.
“In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Defendant Gretchen Whitmer has asserted vast executive-branch power to implement sweeping order,” the lawsuit reads. “Expressly and publicly refusing to collaborate with the Legislature, [Whitmer] has unilaterally crafted and implemented public policies governing almost every aspect of life in Michigan. These include restrictions on how every person in Michigan may work, go to school, worship, exercise legal rights, socialize, and live hour-by-hour.”
GOP state lawmakers see Whitmer’s bypass of the state legislature as an erroneous reading of the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Law and a direct violation of the State Constitution. “[Whimter] has also vetoed even the Legislature’s attempt to codify her exact orders through the legislative process. In asserting these powers, [Whitmer] has ignored the State Constitution and relied on erroneous readings of certain emergency management laws,” the lawsuit reads.
“Today was very avoidable, but it is necessary. It’s a sad day for our state because we truly should all be working together,” Chatfield said. “I am not encouraging any civil disobedience or mass chaos at this point in our state, but I think these orders are legally questionable. That’s why we’re going to court.”
This court filing came after Whitmer extended the state of emergency deadline from May 1 to May 28.
Whitmer has been at odds with the Republican-led legislature long before the coronavirus pandemic. In October 2019, Whitmer line-item vetoed a $1.25 million appropriation for Autism Alliance of Michigan’s services. Her agenda was to veto the Michigan budget to combat the Republican-held state senate, even if it meant nixing appropriations for autistic children and adults.
Legal experts told the Detroit News they believe the fight between GOP lawmakers and Whitmer could end up before the Michigan Supreme Court. There is no precedent in the state for a lawsuit like this one. The Michigan Supreme Court has four Republican-nominated justices and three Democratic-nominated justices.
Whitmer has undergone intense backlash for her tyrannical, authoritarian-like coronavirus strategy. On April 14, Michiganders started an online petition calling for the removal of Whitmer that garnered more than 200,000 signatures.
Six Michigan Congressman sent a joint letter to Whitmer expressing their concerns with her authoritarian-like executive order. The letter was signed by Republican Reps. Paul Mitchell, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, and Jack Bergman. The group suggested Whitmer abide by the guidelines put out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instead of creating her own arbitrary guidelines.
There have also been multiple protests at the Lansing Capitol Building, the most prominent one being “Operation Gridlock,” led by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund. The group garnered over 3,000 attendees.
Whitmer has yet to publicly comment on the lawsuit.