Last October, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’” under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA). The EPGA was further ruled to be in violation of the Michigan State Constitution because it “unlawfully delegates legislative power to the executive branch,” and “cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers.”
In short, all of the executive orders Gretchen Whitmer had ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were unconstitutional, null, and void. Whitmer issued a scathing response, stating “I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation” and closing with a pledge: “I want the people of Michigan to know that no matter what happens, I will never stop fighting to keep you and your families safe from this deadly virus.”
Days after the ruling, Whitmer issued new policies governing public gatherings and mask requirements through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Since then, Whitmer has adjusted these MDHHS mandates periodically.
MDHHS was not alone, as the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) began drafting new, non-emergency regulations. Among them were mask mandates and social distancing requirements impacting a broad swath of businesses, including gyms, bowling alleys, restaurants, bars, health care providers, and all sport and entertainment facilities, for employees and customers alike.