Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lacks the authority to extend or declare states of emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democratic governor issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in March and expanded it via another executive order in April. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a resolution to extend the state of emergency, but only until April 30. Whitmer has since issued many more orders related to the pandemic.
Whitmer cited two state laws — the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945 — as granting her the authority to continue the emergency orders past April 30.
In a 4-3 majority opinion, the state’s high court said she did not have that authority.
“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. 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,” wrote Justice Stephen J. Markman on behalf of the majority.
Whitmer responded to the decision calling it “deeply deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution.”