Many agree Governor’s orders, including mask mandate, ended Friday

October 3, 2020

Many agree Governor’s orders, including mask mandate, ended Friday

LANSING — Lawmakers and judges are chiming in on when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders end. Some say they ended Friday, Oct. 2, after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that her orders since the end of April have been illegal. Whitmer claims that is not the case.

A Michigan circuit court judge stated today that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s claims that her executive orders will not expire for another 21 days is false. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the governor has illegal been issuing orders under two state emergency powers acts. Her executive orders issued since the end of April are void. However, in a press release, Whitmer claimed her orders were “the force of law” for an additional 21 days.

Judge Aaron Gauthier of the 53rd Circuit Court in Cheboygan County challenged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s claim.

“Just an FYI on the effect of Supreme Court opinions. The Governor’s claim that her unconstitutional executive orders are still law for 21 days is incorrect,” Gauthier posted on Facebook. “The 21 days she is referring to has to do with when a judgment is entered in the particular case before the Court, and when the deadline is to file a motion for rehearing. But the legal rule announced by the Supreme Court in an opinion is the law of the State of Michigan the moment it is announced. For example, if the Court held in an opinion that it was unconstitutional for the police to search your car without a warrant, the police couldn’t say, ‘well, we can still conduct unconstitutional and illegal searches for 21 more days.’ The citizenry would rightly be outraged. It is similarly outrageous for the Governor to claim that she can continue to violate the constitution for another 21 days. Every single judge in the State of Michigan is legally obligated to follow the Supreme Court’s opinion as of this moment forward.”

Additionally, Michigan Senate leader Mike Shirkey stated Saturday that the state government should shift its approach away from mandating residents take certain actions, like wearing masks, and toward encouraging and informing them. 

Shirkey said the Senate will not support the mask mandate. 

“I still think we have a responsibility to consider the health of those around us,” he said, adding, however, “There will be no caucus support in the Senate, at least, for state mandates for things like masks.”

Shirkey said he hadn’t made up his mind on capacity limits in businesses, such as restaurants. That restriction will be among the policies lawmakers consider early on, he said.

The court unanimously said one law the governor has used to issue the orders required the Republican-controlled Legislature’s approval, which lawmakers didn’t provide after April 30. Another law delegated too much legislative authority to the executive branch, making it unconstitutional.

“Accordingly, the executive orders issued by the governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law,” Justice Stephen Markman wrote in the majority opinion.

Other legal experts and Shirkey also contend the 21-day period doesn’t apply because the state Supreme Court was answering a question posed by a Grand Rapids federal judge and a rehearing likely wasn’t possible. Some said the federal court for the Western District of Michigan would now have to issue its own ruling to put the decision into effect.

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