Legislature sues to block Whitmer’s virus orders

Coronavirus

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a briefing on the state’s response to coronavirus at the State Emergency Operations Center near Lansing on May 4, 2020. (Courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan Legislature sued Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, asking a judge to declare invalid and unenforceable her stay-at-home order and other measures issued to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed in the state Court of Claims, says a 1945 law giving the governor broad emergency powers governs local, not statewide, declarations like one in place since March. A 1976 law gives her emergency authority only for a limited period that expired when the House and Senate did not extend her emergency and disaster declarations last week, according to the suit.

“The governor chose to take an unprecedented and unconstitutional action of choosing to go it alone,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield said at a Capitol news conference.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Republicans “believe the governor’s actions leave us little choice but to file a lawsuit and seek clarifications in the courts.”

Though Whitmer has gradually lifted restrictions to let some businesses reopen, GOP leaders said they do not know the basis for her decisions, calling them a “mystery” particularly as the statewide curve of COVID-19 cases flattens.

The governor has defended her moves as necessary to save lives in a state where nearly 4,200 have died from the respiratory disease.