Court sides with Whitmer, says Michigan's stay-at-home order isn't unconstitutional

Posted at 10:17 PM, Apr 29, 2020

LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan Court of Claims Wednesday sided with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying that her stay-at-home order does not infringe on the constitutional rights of residents.

The lawsuit, brought by plaintiff Steve Martinko and others, claimed that Whitmer's initial "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the recently adjusted version of the order, violated the rights of Michigan residents.

The plaintiffs in the case claimed that the "mandatory quarantine," along with interstate travel restrictions listed in an earlier version of the order, violated their rights to both procedural due process and substantive due process.

“But those liberty interests are, and always have been, subject to society’s interests – society being our fellow residents," Court of Claims Judge Christopher M. Murray said while delivering his opinion. "They – our fellow residents – have an interest to remain unharmed by a highly communicable and deadly virus, and since the state entered the Union in 1837, it has had the broad power to act for the public health of the entire state when faced with a public crisis.”

Additionally, plaintiffs claimed that the Emergency Management Act, which extends Whitmer's powers during a state of emergency, is "an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power."

The court responded saying that the act doesn't give the governor "uncontrolled" and "arbitrary power," but instead provides for "very specific procedures and criteria for the Governor to declare a state of disaster or emergency, and what conditions qualify as a disaster or emergency."

“I am pleased with the court’s decision,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “This pandemic has already taken more than 3,600 lives in Michigan and many more around the world. The primary goal of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order has always been to protect human life.”

On Tuesday, five Michigan businesses also brought a lawsuit against Whitmer claiming that executive orders in place due to the pandemic have violated the constitutional rights of several businesses.

That lawsuit claims that the executive orders have "shuttered civil society, placed 10 million people under house arrest and taken jobs away from nearly 1.2 million people, all without due process of law."

This story was originally published by Cara Ball at WXYZ.