Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday asked the state’s Supreme Court for clarification that its recent order overturning her emergency powers does not take effect until October 30.
The ruling, mandated October 2, struck down the statute under which Whitmer had been issuing coronavirus emergency orders, nullifying the orders and saying that their issuance had been unconstitutional.
“We need this transition period to protect the 830,000 Michigan workers and families who are depending on unemployment benefits to pay their bills and put food on the table, and to protect Michiganders everywhere who are counting on their leaders to protect them,” Whitmer said in a statement on Monday. “The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I vehemently disagree with their ruling, I’m ready to work across the aisle with Republicans in the legislature where we can find common ground to slow the spread of the virus and rebuild our economy.”
Whitmer and Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, filed a motion asking for the clarification on Monday, three days after the high court’s decision.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling raises several legal questions that we are still reviewing. While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time,” Gordon said in a statement “… We will use every statutory tool available to protect our state employees and the residents we serve.”
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-107-Levering) said the court’s ruling takes immediate effect and told reporters that the Republican-led Legislature was ready to work with the governor’s administration.
“What was unconstitutional in May is still unconstitutional in October,” Chatfield said during a Monday news conference. “What was unconstitutional last week is still unconstitutional this week.”
Chatfield also shared a tweet with a statement from Justice Stephen Markman, who was part of the majority opinion.
Justice Markman in the majority opinion:
“Accordingly, the executive orders issued by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law.”
I am eager to partner with the administration to chart the state’s path forward.#StrongerTogether
— Lee Chatfield (@LeeChatfield) October 3, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, (R-16-Clarklake) echoed Chatfield’s sentiment.
The highest court in our state couldn’t have been more clear in their ruling – they told @GovWhitmer to stop breaking the law by going it alone and to work with the Legislature to tackle the pandemic.
Clearly she didn’t get the message. https://t.co/jiMkUv5Ctr
— Sen. Mike Shirkey (@SenMikeShirkey) October 5, 2020
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox said that Whitmer has “launched a litany of partisan attacks” conservative justices on the Michigan Supreme Court, such as saying that her emergency powers were ruled unconstitutional by a “slim majority Republican vote.”
“Governor Whitmer’s behavior shows that she not only has contempt for Michigan law, but also for our state’s duly elected Supreme Court,” Cox said in a statement on Monday. “It’s time for the Governor to recognize the other branches of our state government and the will of Michigan voters, and work with the legislature to come up with a responsible plan to handle COVID-19 in Michigan.”
Chatfield said that while he believes the court’s ruling has already removed Whitmer’s emergency power, he and other leaders believe that Michigan residents should continue to follow health and safety guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention such as wearing masks and social distancing, according to the Detroit Free Press. He also said that businesses should make and enforce decisions to keep their employees and customers safe.
“We’ve been advocating for a regional approach … all along,” he said.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.
Background Photo “Michigan State Supreme Court” by Subterranean. CC BY-SA 3.0.