Judge Upholds Michigan Stay-At-Home Order, Says It Only Does 'Temporary Harm'
Lansing, MI – A judge in the Michigan Court of Claims sided with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday and said the “temporary harm” to the plaintiffs Constitutional rights was outweighed by the public health risk of the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit was filed by an Oakland County business owner and four other residents of Michigan, MLive reported.
The suit, which named Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Department of Natural Resources Director Daniel Eichinger, claimed that the governor’s stay-at-home order was invalid because it violated their Constitutional rights.
The plaintiffs in the suit argued that a “mandatory quarantine” and in-state travel restrictions infringed on their right to due process, MLive reported.
On April 29, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray ruled in favor of the stay-at-home order.
“Our fellow residents have an interest to remain unharmed by a highly communicable and deadly virus,” Murray said in his ruling. “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.”
The judge said that forcing Whitmer to end her stay-at-home order wouldn’t “serve in the public interest,” MLive reported.
The plaintiffs had also complained that Michigan’s Emergency Management Act gave the governor “uncontrolled, arbitrary power.”
But Murray said in his ruling that he disagreed with that assessment and thought the act laid out specific criteria for procedures for the governor to declare a state of emergency, according to MLive.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs asserted that Whitmer should have only quarantined those who were sick or certain affected regions, but the judge refused to consider that complaint.
“Monday morning quarterbacking is the role of sports fans, not courts reviewing the factual basis supporting executive action to protect the public health,” Murray wrote. “Instead, it is the role of the executive and legislative branches to determine what steps are necessary when faced with a public health crisis.”
Michigan’s stay-at-home order has been widely criticized as one of the most restrictive in the nation.
At one point, the governor’s ban on the sale of fruit and vegetable plants and the closure of garden centers was interpreted by retailers to mean they could not sell seeds, either, and set off a firestorm of criticism from all corners.
After thousands descended on the state capital to protest the stay-at-home order, Whitmer threatened to extend her executive order.
Despite that threat, the governor has taken a step back in recent days.
The judge pointed that out in his ruling and said Whitmer had begun “easing some of the very restrictions challenged by plaintiffs, and has indicated more lifting of restrictions are imminent. Plaintiffs have not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in their challenge to the executive order restrictions,” The Detroit News reported.
As of April 30, 40,399 residents of Michigan have tested positive for coronavirus, and 3,670 have tied, according to Bing’s COVID-19 Tracker.