by Phill Kline
Governor Gretchen Whitmer is feigning benevolence by “granting” a right to citizens that they already had. That’s not generosity; it’s just a cynical attempt to protect her own public image.
One Nation, a group inspired by black urban pastors that rejects the divisive rhetoric of BLM, sought to gather in person and engage in political speech leading up to this election. Governor Whitmer threatened the leaders of the group with jail if any more than 10 persons gathered inside, despite the large size of the room. Meanwhile, the governor marched with BLM in defiance of her own executive orders.
Such is the nature of the America that Governor Whitmer and many of her colleagues are creating: one which uses the power of government to suppress political and religious groups she and her far-left supporters don’t like.
In fact, when public officials such as Whitmer claim the perpetual authority to be the law, rather than simply be a part of the lawmaking process, playing favorites is the inevitable conduct of government.
Governors have initiated executive orders subjecting virtually every relational aspect of our lives to their whim: when we can see doctors and be treated, whether we can visit dying loved ones or celebrate a marriage, whom we may visit and where, when we can go shopping and for what, and how close we can’t stand to one another. Such laws can’t be enforced. There is no police force in the world large enough to enforce such laws.
And so, the only people unfortunate enough to face the state’s wrath are those who challenge the authority of government or speak in opposition to the suffocating cultural hegemony enforced by the left-wing social media mob.
Unfortunately, it seems that most Americans are okay with the thought that others can be forced to comply with these pronouncements even while they skirt the rules themselves.
Most Americans would undoubtedly say enough is enough if they learned the truth of how these unilateral decisions by governors are dramatically harming millions of Americans whose businesses have been crushed, whose friends or family members have died because of unavailable medical care, or whose elderly loved ones are descending into despair and isolation.
Governor Whitmer evidently agrees. Because each time someone with a little authority pushes back against her overreach, the governor caves in and suddenly modifies her executive orders to allow those opposing her to do what they sought to do.
This happened in the One Nation case against the governor. At first, the group was threatened with arrest. But now, with a hearing in federal district court looming, Governor Whitmer has modified her order to allow One Nation to gather.
She did this in the hope that the federal court will dismiss One Nation’s lawsuit as moot — in other words, Whitmer claims that altering her executive order resolves the dispute.
It does not!
The problem with Whitmer’s conduct is that the right to gather, to speak, to worship, to march, and to assemble is not hers to grant or revoke. Unfortunately, the governor still does not admit this truth, and reserves the right to issue a new proclamation at any moment and remove the right again.
A similar strategy was implemented in Pennsylvania by Governor Tom Wolf — but in that instance Federal District Judge William Stickman IV saw through this ruse of changing the orders at the last moment, stating that the court’s “failure to [examine the issues raised] in the name of restraint may very well constitute a dereliction of duty.” Stickman was saying that the underlying issues are so important that governors can’t be allowed to evade scrutiny merely by tweaking their orders to address individual complaints.
Governor Whitmer would do well to heed Stickman’s ruling. Michigan is the Wolverine State and the Great Lakes State — it is not the Banana Republic State of Whitmer. The governor must be held to account for her attempts to twist the spirit of the law in order to hurt her political opponents and save her own public image.
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Phill Kline is the Former Kansas Attorney General. He currently serves as Pulpit Pastor of Amherst Baptist Church, a law school professor, and director of the Amistad Project of The Thomas More Society. Previously, he served as president of the Midwest Association of Attorneys General, was on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and was co-chairperson of the Violent Sexual Predator Apprehension Task Force. He was a Kansas House member for eight years where he chaired the Appropriations Committee and the Taxation Committee and authored victims rights laws and welfare reform.