LANSING, Mich. — The U.S. Department of Justice calls Governor Whitmer's executive orders "irrational" in a letter expressing interest in a lawsuit filed against the Stay Home orders.
"The statement of interest is part of Attorney General William P. Barr’s April 27, 2020 initiative directing Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, to review state and local policies to ensure that civil liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic." The DOJ announced in a statement Friday night.
The lawsuit includes over half a dozen business owners opposing Governor Whitmer's executive orders shutting down the state. According to a press release by the DOJ, they believe the lawsuit should examine the Governor's rights and responsibilities under the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Whitmer's office replied, saying they believe their actions are supported by sound information.
“Throughout this crisis, we have followed the science and listened to medical experts to keep our hospital system from collapsing and protect front line health workers who are looking out for the people of Michigan." The Governor's office said. "...But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made."
“Our Constitution is enduring, and it is critically important that government comply fully with the Constitution in times of crisis,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Constitution permits appropriate state and local government restrictions to protect the health and safety of Americans, but it does not permit arbitrary limits that limit the right of all people in our country to be treated equally and fairly by the government.”
“I have no doubt about the governor’s good intentions, but the Executive Orders arbitrarily discriminate by allowing some businesses to operate while similar businesses must close or limit their operations—and if they refuse, they face fines and possible jail time,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “... Under the Governor’s Orders, it’s OK to go to a hardware store and buy a jacket, but it’s a crime to go inside a clothing store and buy the identical jacket without making an appointment. That’s arbitrary."
Governor Whitmer has issued over 100 executive orders since the State of Emergency and Stay Home, Stay Safe orders went into place, regulating business, recreation, travel, and interpersonal interactions in Michigan. The embattled governor was recently supported by the Michigan Court of Claims when Republicans filed a previous lawsuit challenging the Governor's power under the State Constitution.