Michigan AG Says She'll Stop Prosecuting Violators of Gov. Whitmer's COVID Orders Following MI Supreme Court Ruling

Brittany M. Hughes | October 5, 2020
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Michigan’s Democrat Attorney General now says she will not continue to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive actions propelling a further shutdown over COVID-19 after the state Supreme Court ruled the orders ran afoul of the Michigan state consitution.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, the Attorney General will no longer enforce the governor’s executive orders through criminal prosecution," Ryan Jarvi, a spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, said in a statement following the ruling.

The MI Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on October 2 that Whitmer’s arbitrary and economically devastating lockdowns were unconstitutional, saying she never had the legal authority to extend her mandated state of emergency past April 30, when her first executive order expired. Whitmer has continued to extend the order, under which she issued restrictions that shut down small businesses and required people to wear face coverings in public, since first implementing the state of emergency in March. 

But whether to extend the first state of emergency, the court ruled, fell under the jurisdiction of the state legislature, which has since declined to do so, making Whitmer’s unilateral decision constitutional. 

Whitmer, true to form, has asked for the state Supreme Court to re-hear the case, claiming that in the meantime she can continue to enforce her diktats. Shortly before the Supreme Court ruling, Whitmer had ordered part of the Upper Peninsula region to fall back into Phase 4 of reopening, which takes residents back to working remotely whenever possible, requiring schoolchildren to wear face masks, and putting limits on private social gatherings and shopping areas. Whitmer argues that the order will stand until the case is re-heard.

Nessel’s office said that while the state will not continue to enforce the Governor’s illegal COVID mandates under criminal prosecution, local law enforcement agencies may continue to do so per local ordinances.

"However, [Nessel’s] decision is not binding on other law enforcement agencies or state departments with independent enforcement authority,” the AG’s spokesperson said.

“It’s her fervent hope that people continue to abide by the measures that Gov. Whitmer put in place — like wearing face masks, adhering to social distancing requirements and staying home when sick — since they’ve proven effective at saving lives."