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Judge hears state of emergency arguments

Posted at 7:31 PM, May 15, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — The case that will decide if Governor Gretchen Whitmer's state of emergency order is legal is now in the hands of a judge.

Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims heard oral arguments via zoom on Friday in a lawsuit filed by Republican legislative leaders against the governor.

Attorney for the legislature, Michael Williams, said the governor's actions were unconstitutional.

"The governor has acted against the expressed will of the legislature and in that way is exercising authority that does not exist," said Williams.

At question in the legal battle is the Governor's executive powers and whether she had the authority to extend the state of emergency without the legislature's consent.

Attorneys for the legislature asked Judge Stephens to nullify the governor's stay home orders.

"The Governor accuses the legislature of creating a Constitutional crisis on top of a public health crisis, but it's the governor's broad efforts and it's the governor's broad application of the statute that in fact creates the Constitutional crisis," said Williams.

The two sides disagree on the interpretation of 1976 Emergency Management Act and 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, which the governor used to extend the state of emergency.

"The legislative intent is clear on its face. They intended the acts to be distinct and overlapping or compounding sources of authority, which makes sense," said Chris Allen, Assistant Solicitor General.

The legislature argued the 1945 law is meant for local emergencies only. The governor's defense disagreed.

"The legislature has granted the governor these broad police powers to respond in a crisis like this," said Allen.

"This is not an argument about the existence or not existence of a crisis. This case is instead about the question of whether a governor, this governor or any governor in the future can exercise effectively a limitless unilateral, temporally unfounded authority, exercising the lawmaking power of this state for as long as the governor wishes," said Williams.

FOX 47 will let you know when Judge Stephens issues her ruling the case is almost certainly going to the Michigan Supreme Court, no matter how she rules.

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