Michigan Republicans announce lawsuit against Whitmer over emergency powers

Posted at 9:54 AM, May 06, 2020

Michigan's Republican leaders announced Wednesday they are filing a lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her emergency powers.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey announced the lawsuit will be filed in the Court of Claims during a press conference on Wednesday morning from Lansing.

"We’ve attempted to partner with our governor, but she’s rejected. We offered cooperation, but instead she chose court," Chatfield said in a tweet. "This was avoidable, but today we filed a lawsuit in our state to challenge her unconstitutional actions. The law in Michigan is clear, and nobody is above it."

Whitmer's press secretary released this statement to 7 Action News:

“This lawsuit is just another partisan game that won’t distract the governor. Her number one priority is saving lives. She’s making decisions based on science and data, not political or legal pressure. She has brought together leaders in health care, business, labor, and education to develop the MI Safe Start plan to re-engage our economy in a way the protects our workers and their families. Moving forward, the governor will continue to listen to medical experts and put the health and safety of Michiganders first.”

During the press conference, Chatfield said that the legislature and governor's office should be partnering together.

“The Republican leadership has demonstrated once again that the only thing they have to offer the people of Michigan during this crisis is partisan political theatre, dripping with hypocrisy," House Democratic Leader Christine Greig said in a statement. "As Michiganders are stretching their dollars and worrying about their livelihood in the face of a global pandemic, legislative Republicans are distracting time and attention away from the state’s response to COVID-19 and squandering scarce taxpayer resources in another dubious attempt to undermine efforts to address this unprecedented public health crisis.

Last week, the legislature approval resolutions and announced that they planned to sue Whitmer. It came after Whitmer said she didn't need the legislature's approval to extend a state of emergency, which expired last Thursday.

Lawmakers didn't approve the declaration, and Whitmer used an executive order to extend it anyway.

The battle is over two different laws – one from 1976 and one from 1945. Republicans say the 1976 Emergency Act requires the legislature's approval for a new emergency declaration after 28 days.

Whitmer and Democrats point to the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 that gives the governor the ability to declare a state of emergency.