Michigan Congressman Paul Mitchell sues Governor Whitmer in federal court
A Congressman from Michigan is suing Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Department of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon in federal court, claiming her actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 violate the United States Constitution.
Republican Paul Mitchell of Lapeer County filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Mitchell argues the Governor's declaration of a state of emergency without legislative approve and her use of executive orders violate Article IV, Section 4 as well as the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
The lawsuit names MDHHS director Gordon as a defendant for issuing an emergency order under the public health code requiring everyone in Michigan to comply with the Governor's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order and for issuing the rule establishing a $1,000 fine for violating that order.
Governor Whitmer has cited a 1945 state law she says gives the governor sole authority to decide when an emergency has ended. Republicans in the legislature cite a 1976 law limiting a governor's emergency declaration to 28 days without legislative approval to extend it.
Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency on March 10 after Michigan's first case of COVID-19 was confirmed. Republicans in the Legislature agreed to extend it through the end of April.
They refused the Governor's request for a second extension after she refused to negotiate the terms of her executive order closing many businesses in the state.
The Governor then extended the state of emergency herself through May 28 under the terms of the 1946 law. The "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order is in place until May 15.
The Legislature has passed a resolution allowing legislative leaders to sue the Governor in state court over her use of emergency powers. On Monday Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R - Jackson County) said he expected that lawsuit to be filed in the second week of May.
News 10 and wilx.com will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments in Michigan's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.