Michigan Supreme Court denies Whitmer's request for 28 day extension of pandemic orders

The Michigan Supreme Court has rejected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's appeal for a 28-day extension of her COVID-19 pandemic executive orders.

The state supreme court ruled on Monday that the governor's request for an extension was denied, upholding the court's ruling on Friday, Oct. 2 that Whitmer's COVID-19 executive orders were not valid because the 1945 law where she drew the powers from was invalid.

Justices voted 6-1 against halting the precedential effect of its opinion until Oct. 30. They also, as expected, reaffirmed their initial 4-3 ruling that declared a 1945 emergency powers law unconstitutional -- this time in a lawsuit brought by the Republican-led Legislature.

Whitmer had been seeking clarification for when their ruling went into effect, saying if it is immediately that 830,000 Michiganders could lose unemployment benefits. She says critical measures meant to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus would also immediately lapse.

The court said on Monday that the decision "leaves open many avenues for our Governor and Legislature to work together in a cooperative spirit and constitutional manner to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic."

On Monday, October 12, the state reported over 1,800 new cases and 7 deaths linked to the virus since Saturday. 

Whitmer, a Democrat, last week reinstituted mask requirements and other restrictions through orders issued by the state health department under a different law. The Legislature and administration are negotiating legislation related to unemployment benefits and other issues in the wake of the Oct. 2 court decision.

Last Friday, Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon issued an emergency order on Friday to restrict gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces and childcare facilities, placing capacity limitations on stores, bars, and other public venues, and providing for safer workplaces, all in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The orders essentially replace orders that Whitmer had issued. 

The court said in its earlier ruling that the law was an "unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.