Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had the right to use emergency powers to extend the states lockdown measures in response to the ongoing CCP virus pandemic, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled on May 21, after Republican lawmakers challenged the move in a lawsuit.
Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Court of Claims declared Thursday that the governor did not require legislative approval to keep Michigan under a state of emergency until May 28. At the time, Whitmer cited a 1945 law and a 1976 statute to extend the states emergency declaration.
Stephens ruled that Whitmer had, within her executive authority, operated under “broad” powers to lengthen the stay-at-home order under the 1945 Emergency Powers of Governors Act (EPGA).
The judge said the EPGA is not limited to local and regional emergencies and sets no time limit on a state of emergency.
“It would take a particularly strained reading of the plain text of the [law] to conclude that a grant of authority to deal with a public crisis that affects all the people of this state would somehow be constrained to a certain locality,” Stephens said, The Associated Press reported.
The claims are “meritless,” the judge added.
The Michigan Court of Claims also ruled that Whitmer exceeded a 1976 statute she cited in extending that states emergency declaration in late April. The 1976 law, the Emergency Management Act, requires approval from the legislature to extend state of emergency after 28 days. However, Stephens said the 1945 law covers her state of emergency extension.
I will continue to do what Ive always done: take careful, decisive actions to protect Michiganders from this unprecedented, global pandemic. We owe it to our front line heroes who have been putting their lives on the line to pull together as a state and work as one team. pic.twitter.com/LHLA39QNWe
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 21, 2020
“Todays decision recognizes that the governors actions to save lives are lawful and her orders remain in place,” Whitmers office said in a statement. “She will continue to do what shes always done: take careful, decisive actions to protect Michiganders from this unprecedented, global pandemic.”
Whitmer has meanwhile eased restrictions in the state as confirmed cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, and deaths begin to slow down.
The governor announced on May 18 that some restaurants, bars, and other retail businesses in much of northern Michigan will be allowed to begin reopening starting Friday, ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.