News Bite

Lawsuit: Whitmer's Ongoing Unilateral Rule Is An Abuse Of Power

She cites a law meant for time-sensitive emergencies, not a months-to-years-long epidemic

A brief filed in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s unilateral exercise of extraordinary emergency powers related to the COVID-19 epidemic contends that she is violating the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act [EPGA].

The brief was filed this week by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation and the Miller Johnson law firm in a case set to go before the Michigan Supreme Court on Sept. 2.

That 1945 law was enacted in response to riots that occurred in Detroit in 1943. It permits a governor to declare a state of emergency and assume extraordinary executive powers, but specifies no deadline on how long she may exercise this authority, and doesn't explicitly require legislative approval.

According to the brief, the 1945 law, “does not refer to ‘epidemics’ as an example of circumstances over which the EPGA gives the Governor emergency powers. Instead, the EPGA defines an ‘emergency’ by reference to a list of scenarios in which an urgent, time-sensitive response is required: ‘crisis,’ ‘disaster,’ ‘rioting,’ ‘catastrophe,’ and circumstances causing ‘immediate danger’ of a similar public emergency. … A years-long public health challenge like an epidemic does not fit within that list and is therefore outside the scope of the statute.”