Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, has put in place some of the strictest lockdown restrictions in the nation as a response to the coronavirus. She has faced stiff criticism for these actions, and now is looking at a lawsuit from the Republican-controlled legislature.
At the onset of the coronavirus epidemic, Gov. Whitmer imposed a state of emergency that prohibited many actions across the state. These included a ban on private and public gatherings, the sale of “non-essential” items in stores, and a prohibition on travel between residences. Many governors have issued lockdown orders, but Gov. Whitmer’s restrictions went beyond what other governors had done.
From the beginning, state residents criticized the stay-at-home order for being inconsistent and unnecessarily strict. Some sheriffs refused to enforce it, and the governor eventually rolled back some of these restrictions. Last week, however, she extended the state of emergency, leaving many of these bans in place.
Legislators are arguing that state law prohibits the governor from extending a state of emergency beyond 28 days without legislative approval. Legal analysts say state law is murky on this point, but there is language in a 1976 statute that supports legislators’ views.
The governor contends that her actions are necessary to protect the public from the spread of coronavirus. Her critics argue that she is hurting workers and business owners by restrictions that are not necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus.
If this lawsuit is successful, the governor will be forced to work with legislatures on what a future stay-at-home order looks like.
Do you think that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer overstepped her authority by unilaterally re-imposing her lockdown restrictions?