In a historic ruling issued Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to continue a state of emergency after April 30, 2020 without legislative approval was illegal. Additionally, in a 4-3 decision, the Court ruled that the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, which Gov. Whitmer argued allowed her to maintain unilateral control for an indefinite period, is unconstitutional. All executive orders issued after April 30 are null and void, pending an almost certain rehearing request from the governor and other state officials.
The case was originally filed in May by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, in conjunction with the Grand Rapids-based Miller Johnson law firm. It was on behalf of three medical practitioners who were unable to provide necessary care and a patient who was unable to receive care under the governor’s emergency executive orders. Grand Health Partners, Wellston Medical Center and Primary Health Services were among the health care facilities across Michigan initially prevented from performing elective procedures like endoscopies and surgeries. The justices unanimously held that Gov. Whitmer acted illegally by declaring a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act of 1976. The law clearly requires the Legislature to approve extending emergencies after 28 days, and Gov. Whitmer illegally attempted to bypass that requirement.
Moving forward, Gov. Whitmer will need to work with the Legislature through the normal legislative process to issue policies related to COVID-19.