News Story

Meet The New Coronavirus Mandates and Restrictions

Mostly same as the old ones, but now based on powers previous legislators granted to the health department

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 2 that a declared state of emergency no longer exists in this state.

By a 4-3 vote, the court held that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does not possess the authority to exercise indefinite emergency powers under the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, because Michigan Constitution does not permit the legislature - a coequal branch of state government - to turn over its legislative authority to the governor.

The court also held in a 7-0 vote that the governor did “not possess the authority under the Emergency Management Act of 1976” to impose an indefinite state of emergency. This law requires legislative approval for a state of emergency longer than 28 days.

The court found that under that timetable, the official COVID-related state of emergency ended after April 30, 2020.

Now however, Robert Gordon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has essentially reinstated many or most of the provisions of the no-longer enforceable executive orders. He has done so under authority granted to his department by a different law passed by an earlier legislature, the Public Health Code of 1978.

Gordon, who was a law clerk under Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, stated that he would review his order by Oct. 30. On Monday, Whitmer specified that date in a request to the Michigan State Supreme Court for an extension of her power to enforce executive orders.

Gordon also hinted that with the Public Health Code powers he is claiming, these new versions of the same workplace rules, public place restrictions, social distancing and face mask mandates may remain in effect for the duration of the pandemic, however long that may take.

“We won’t need these orders forever. I have asked for feedback on today’s order, and I pledge to review the specific elements by October 30. The day can’t come soon enough when a vaccine and therapeutic drugs make normal life safer again. For now, public action is critical to saving Michiganders’ lives.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.