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Douglas Andrews / October 5, 2020

Michigan’s High Court Slaps Its Governor

Yet she falsely claims she’s being undermined in her efforts to “save lives.”

Michigan is a blue state. Yes, its 16 electoral votes went to Donald Trump in 2016, but only by a whisker, and only because Hillary Clinton was the worst presidential candidate in history.

The Great Lake State’s Supreme Court, however, is another story — but also by a whisker. Its seven justices serve eight-year terms, and while they’re nominated in partisan primaries, they’re chosen in a nonpartisan general election. At present, the court has four Republican-affiliated justices and three Democrat-affiliated ones. And freedom-loving Michiganders everywhere can now be grateful for it.

“Michigan’s one-woman rule is no more,” reports the Wall Street Journal editorial board. “When the coronavirus hit the state this spring, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer drew complaints for the seemingly arbitrary nature of her lockdown orders. Stores were told to cordon off nonessential sections. You could buy lottery tickets, but not paint or gardening supplies.”

“Those rules have eased,” the Journal continues, “but Ms. Whitmer extended Michigan’s state of emergency again last week, this time through Oct. 27. In a Friday opinion that limits the Governor’s emergency powers, the Michigan Supreme Court quoted Montesquieu: ‘When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty.’”

The court thus ruled 4-3 along party lines that the law Whitmer has been using to rule the state with an iron fist is unconstitutional. But, as Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley notes, “The bigger defeat was delivered by the full court in a unanimous decision. The majority was joined by all three Democratic nominated justices in a second ruling that Whitmer was obligated to get the Legislature’s approval for extending the initial Covid-19 state of emergency declaration, which she’s done several times since the first legislative-approved one expired April 30.”

This unanimous ruling means that every COVID-related order Whitmer has issued since April 30 is invalid, effective immediately, because she refused to go through the proper process — which is the legislative process. (The state’s Emergency Management Act allows her to declare a disaster for 28 days, but it requires legislative approval for any period beyond that.)

But “Big Gretch,” as she’s unaffectionately known, didn’t want to hear about bipartisan rulings. “This threat is still very real,” she insisted Sunday, “and the sad irony is on the day that the president was admitted to the hospital with the very virus he called a hoax, the Supreme Court in Michigan undermined my emergency rule, my emergency orders that I’ve had to enact that puts us in the same state as all other states in this nation, to save lives. We’ve saved thousands of lives and the Supreme Court, on a slim majority Republican vote, undermined that effort.”

That’s all true, too, except for the part about President Donald Trump having called the coronavirus “a hoax,” and the part about the court having “undermined” her, and the part about “all other states in this nation” having the same draconian emergency powers as she does, and the part about her lockdowns having saved “thousands of lives.”

The truths are that Trump called the Democrats’ efforts to blame him for the coronavirus a hoax; if she was undermined at all, the culprit is the state’s constitution, not its Supreme Court justices; lots of other governors aren’t twisting their states’ laws to further their petty-tyrannical ends; and Whitmer has no proof that her lockdowns have saved even a single Michigander’s life — and there’s plenty of solid data to suggest otherwise.

Whitmer, though, still doesn’t get it, despite being slapped down by her state’s highest court: “Many of the responsive measures I have put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in today’s ruling,” she says.

To which the Journal quipped, “What was it again that Lord Acton said about absolute power?”

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