The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled 4-3 against Governor Gretchen Whitmer's use of emergency powers to mandate COVID-19-related restrictions for the past five months without input from state legislature.
"(We) do not believe that the Legislature intended to allow the governor to redeclare … the identical state of emergency and state of disaster under these circumstances," Judge Stephen Markman wrote in the majority opinion. "The governor's declaration of a state of emergency or state of disaster may only endure for 28 days absent legislative approval of an extension. So, if the Legislature does nothing, as it did here, the governor is obligated to terminate the state of emergency or state of disaster after 28 days."
The court ruled unanimously that the 1976 Emergency Management Act did not give Whitmer power to issue or renew executive orders on April 30 related to COVID-19 after 28 days without legislative approval.
Whitmer said in a statement on Friday that her orders remain in effect for at least 21 days. She added that the "responsive measures" she established "will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in [Friday's Supreme Court] ruling."
"Today's Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court's interpretation of the Michigan Constitution," Whitmer said in a statement on Friday. "Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April."