Judge denies Republicans' challenge to Gov. Whitmer's State of Emergency

A Michigan Court of Claims judge ruled against Republicans' attempt to invalidate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's most recent coronavirus State of Emergency.
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LANSING (WJRT) (5/21/2020) - A judge has denied Michigan Republicans' request to throw out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's most recent State of Emergency extension.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens issued a ruling Thursday that keeps the State of Emergency in place. However, she ruled against Whitmer partially.

Republicans argued that Whitmer's extension violates the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which requires legislative approval for an emergency declaration beyond 28 days.

Whitmer argued that she has authority under the 1945 law and Michigan's Emergency Management Act of 1976 to declare a State of Emergency.

Whitmer first declared the State of Emergency in early March, before Michigan's first coronavirus cases had been identified. The Legislature approved an extension covering April 1 to 30.

However, Republicans declined to vote in favor of an extension when it was due on April 30, citing concerns about Whitmer keeping too much of the state's economy closed.

On the evening of April 30, Whitmer issued three executive orders:
-- Rescinding the State of Emergency issued earlier in April.
-- Declaring a new State of Emergency under the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.
-- Declaring a new State of Emergency and Disaster under the 1976 Emergency Management Act.

Stephens' ruling invalidates Whitmer's use of the 1976 law to declare a new State of Emergency, but upholds her use of the 1945 to maintain the emergency declaration.

So Michigan's State of Emergency remains in place based on Whitmer's authority under the 1945 law. It currently is scheduled to end on May 28.

However, Stephens said earlier this month that she expects the case to be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which would have the final say. Republicans did not immediately announce an appeal Thursday.

Stephens also dismissed a similar lawsuit from two residents challenging Whitmer's authority to allow extensions for local governments under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act during the coronavirus pandemic.