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Questions linger after Michigan Supreme Court strikes down Whitmer's COVID-19 emergency orders

Posted at 10:38 PM, Oct 04, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Questions are lingering after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her use of emergency orders during the pandemic.

The governor appeared on CNN Sunday morning voicing her concerns with the ruling.

“This threat is still very real and the sad irony is the day with the president was admitted to the hospital with the very virus he called a hoax, the Supreme Court of Michigan undermined my emergency rule,” Whitmer said.

On Friday, the governor said the ruling does not go into effect for 21 days, and, in a statement released on Sunday, her office said the ruling raises several legal questions they are still reviewing.

READ THE FULL MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT OPINION

Though others, many on the right, don’t see it that way.

Judge Aaron Gauthier of the 53rd Circuit Court in Northern Michigan posted on Facebook to say the governor’s claim is incorrect.

Emphasizing the use of the word "now" in this text from the ruling, “The executive orders issued by the governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law.”

FOX 17 reached out to the Michigan Supreme Court for clarification about the governor’s claims. The public information officer told us, “that question subject to legal interpretation. There is not a definitive answer or case that I can cite for you.”

Regardless, citizens found violating terms of the governor's orders will no longer be subject to criminal prosecution. Attorney General Dana Nessel made that announcement on Sunday, adding that she encourages people to continue following the measures the governor put in place.

Nessel's office says “her decision is not binding on other law enforcement agencies or state departments with independent enforcement authority.” That could include health departments and some counties that have already begun to patch up holes left by the court's ruling.

Oakland County has already implemented a mask mandate, and Ingham County passed four emergency orders on Sunday mirroring the orders the governor most recently put in place.

In Kent County, health officials are looking into what actions they should take.

Meanwhile, the governor vows to use every tool at her disposal, adding that many of the measures she put in place to control the spread of COVID will continue under alternative sources of authority.

“We've saved thousands of lives, and the Supreme Court and it's slim majority Republican vote undermined that effort, and so I am very concerned,” Whitmer said.

The governor’s office says she’s ready to work across the aisle with the legislature to find common ground.

Republican Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield tweeted that he’s eager to partner with the administration to chart the state’s path forward.