by Bruce Walker
Michigan’s governor, attorney general, and Department of Health and Human Services are on the hook for $200,000 in attorneys fees incurred from a lawsuit resolved by the state’s Supreme Court.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (MCPP) will collect the $200,000 after the state Supreme Court ruled against the government principals on Oct. 2, 2020, declaring Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s exercise of emergency powers under a 1945 law unconstitutional. The court’s ruling nullified every COVID-19 executive order issued by the governor after April 30, 2020.
“For five months, Governor Whitmer disregarded the law, suppressed civil liberties and controlled the day-to-day activities of 10 million Michigan residents,” said Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center, in a statement. “During this time, the governor’s orders sought to micromanage almost every aspect of our lives. We are proud to have successfully brought a suit restoring freedom to all Michiganders, and we remain vigilant to prevent future arbitrary governmental action.”
The governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the MDHHS will divide the penalty evenly.
The MCPP and the Miller Johnson law firm filed a lawsuit challenging Whitmer’s emergency authority in May 2020. The Supreme Court unanimously concluded that Whitmer’s continued exercise of emergency powers without input from the legislature was illegal. The court also ruled 4-3 the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 was unconstitutional.
The MCPP says it does not charge its clients for representation but will use the $200,000 windfall to offset the costs of litigation.
The Michigan Legislature approved an extension of the governor’s emergency powers in March 2020 but voted against a second extension after April 30 of that year. Whitmer claimed the 1945 law granted her authorization for exercising unilateral actions.
Represented by Miller and Johnson and the MCPP, three medical centers sued the governor in May 2020.
“The Governor did not possess the authority to exercise emergency powers under the EPGA because the act unlawfully delegates legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution,” the Supreme Court justices wrote in their October 2020 ruling.
After the Supreme Court issued its ruling, Whitmer released a statement in which she called the ruling “deeply disappointing.”
She continued: “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. 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.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Image “Gov Whitmer” by Gov Whitmer/Facebook.