Michigan Supreme Court weighs governor’s emergency powers

The state's highest court is responding to a lawsuit that seeks to decide whether the governor had the power to extend the state of emergency beyond April.

The Michigan Supreme Court questioned an attorney for Governor Gretchen Whitmer for nearly two hours Wednesday over her continued extensions of executive authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hearing comes as a result of a lawsuit by medical providers who say the governor abused her power by restricting “non-essential” medical procedures from March 21 to May 29.

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Whitmer originally declared a state of emergency under a 1976 law, which requires legislative approval to continue after 28 days. The Republican-led legislature denied the governor’s extension and Whitmer declared a state of emergency under a separate 1945 law.

Patrick Wright with the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, representing the medical providers, told Bridge Michigan that the governor overstepped her bounds.

“This is not a choice between either working to try and prevent COVID deaths or not, it is a question of who gets to make the decisions and how,” he said.

Deputy Solicitor General Eric Restuccia, representing the governor, said the pandemic is an unprecedented situation.

“It’s as if there’s a fire raging across Michigan and the governor is seeking to contain it,” Restuccia said. “And while there’s been some success with these firefighters trying to contain the fire … the Legislature and the plaintiffs are telling us there is no emergency.”

As of Wednesday Michigan has had 108,595 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,552 deaths from the virus.

You can read the full story here.

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