Advance Notice: Briefs

State Supreme Court denies gov. 28-day extension for state of emergency

By: - October 12, 2020 3:42 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

The Michigan Supreme Court denied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request to delay its ruling that struck down her emergency orders.

Whitmer asked for a 28-day delay, but after this decision by the court on Monday, her executive orders are no longer in effect. 

Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said that while she disagreed with the majority’s decision that the governor’s use of the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act was unconstitutional, she said she does not believe the court has the authority to grant Whitmer the delay.

Justice Richard Bernstein, the only judge to vote in favor of Whitmer’s request, said that he believes “a delay here could only allow the governor and the Legislature the time to better prepare for an appropriate transition.”

He added that he is concerned about the Michiganders who will lose the unemployment benefits they were eligible for under Whitmer’s executive orders.

“Even assuming that the Legislature will be able to respond quickly, the Governor notes that up to 830,000 active claimants may lose their benefits once this Court’s opinion takes effect. This represents a significant potential disruption to the livelihoods of the people of Michigan in a time of great public crisis,” he wrote in his dissent. 

The Michigan Supreme Court also reversed a Court of Appeals decision and ruled Whitmer did not have the authority to continue the state of emergency.

The Court’s order states that “the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act is incompatible with the Constitution of our state, and therefore, executive orders issued under that act are of no continuing legal effect.”

“This new ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court could potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders losing their unemployment benefits in a matter of days,” said Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown. “These are men and women who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic who are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table for themselves and their families. Now, we need the Michigan Legislature to get to work codifying the governor’s executive order expanding unemployment protections for Michiganders. Democrats … have introduced legislation to protect unemployed Michiganders and their families. It’s time for Republicans in the legislature to pass these protections and send them to Governor Whitmer’s desk.”

Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued a new order, which mirrors a number of the governor’s order, including restrictions on gathering sizes, requires face masks in public spaces and limits capacity in businesses. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.