Judge rules in favor of Whitmer in Republican-led lawsuit challenging emergency powers

Posted at 4:34 PM, May 21, 2020

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a lawsuit filed by the Republic-led Legislature earlier this month over her emergency powers.

The ruling is likely to be appealed by Republicans.

The lawsuit stemmed over the Emergency Management Act of 1976 (EMA) and the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 (EPGA).

“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,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said.

Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that the Republicans challenge to the governor's authority to declare a state of emergency under the EPGA were "meritless."

Under the EPGA, "The Governor may promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control."

According to Stephens, the EMA allows for the governor to circumvent the legislative process only under extraordinary circumstances and for a finite period of time.

"Today’s decision recognizes that the Governor’s actions to save lives are lawful and her orders remain in place. She will continue to do what she’s always done: take careful, decisive actions to protect Michiganders from this unprecedented, global pandemic. We owe it to our front line heroes who have been putting their lives on the line to pull together as a state and work as one team to stop the spread of this virus," Whitmer said in a release.

Stephens did rule that under the EMA, at the end of 28 days of a state of emergency, there are only two outcomes. One is the state of emergency is terminated – the other is continuing with legislative approval.

"There is no third option for the Governor to continue the state of emergency and/or disaster on her own, absent legislative approval," the ruling reads. "Nor does the stattue permit the Governor to simply extend the same state of disaster and/or emergency that was otherwise due to expire."

"While the Governor's action of re-declaring the same emergency violated the provisions of the EMA, plaintiffs' challenges to the EPGA and the Governor's authority to issue Executive Orders thereunder are meritless," the ruling reads.

You can read the entire ruling below.

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