Michigan GOP-Led Legislature Files Appeal Over Whitmer Ruling, as Governor Extends State's Stay-at-Home Order

The Michigan Republican-led legislature filed an appeal Friday over a judge's recent decision upholding Governor Gretchen Whitmer's state-of-emergency order from April 30. Meanwhile, Whitman extended her stay-at-home order through mid-June.

The legislature appealed the Thursday ruling by Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens, who found that Whitmer had the authority to extend the emergency order on April 30 under a 1945 state law. The legislature also requested that the case skip the Court of Appeals and be taken up directly by the state's Supreme Court.

In comments issued following the Thursday ruling, State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey issued a statement in which he said the Republicans felt "vindicated" in the judge's ruling.

"While we are disappointed by aspects of this determination, we are vindicated in our assertion that the Governor acted unlawfully in attempting to extend the states of emergency and disaster under the Emergency Management Act without legislative approval. We are confident in our position and will appeal this ruling," Shirkey said.

Shirkey was referencing Stephens' opinion that the governor did exceed her authority with regard to the Emergency Management Act of 1976, which requires an extension past the initial 28 days to be approved by legislators.

However, by arguing that the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which allows a governor to proclaim a state of emergency "during times of great public crisis, disaster, rioting, catastrophe, or similar public emergency within the state," Whitmer did have the authority to extend the order on her own, according to Stephens.

"It would be inconsistent with (legislative) intent to find that 'sufficiently broad power' to respond to matters of great public crisis is constrained by contrived geographic limitations, as plaintiffs suggest," Stephens said, in response to the legislature's argument that the 1945 law could not be applied to statewide order.

Shirkey said in an interview on WTVB's Delaney in the Morning Stephens' opinion was expected by the legislature "almost to the letter."

"She very clearly vindicated the legislature's point that the emergency declaration extension and the executive orders issued on April 30 in reference to the 1976 law absolutely broke the law. But then she ruled that the 1945 law...allows a governor to do what she did as long as she is referencing that law," Shirkey said, adding that he believes the 1945 law was intended for "immediate, short term duration crises and emergencies."

He expects the state Supreme Court, if they take the case directly, to begin hearing sides in three to four weeks.

Newsweek reached out to Shirkey for comment, but he did not respond back in time for publication.

On Friday, Whitmer extended the state's stay-at-home order once again until at least June 12, citing that the orders put in place thus far "have been effective."

"The number of new confirmed cases each day is slowly dropping. Although the virus remains aggressive and persistent...the strain on our health care system has begun to relent, even as our testing capacity has increased," Whitmer stated.

Michigan has 53,913 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 5,158 deaths attributed to the virus, according to the state's COVID-19 website.

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Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020. - The group is protesting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's mandatory closure to curtail the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images) JEFF KOWALSKY/Getty
Michigan GOP-Led Legislature Files Appeal Over Whitmer Ruling, as Governor Extends State's Stay-at-Home Order | U.S.