The Michigan Supreme Court finally clipped Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's wings
Michigan's Democrat governor Gretchen Whitmer became a byword in 2020 for government overreach in response to the Wuhan virus shutdown. She issued scores of draconian and often irrational rules dictating every aspect of life in Michigan. Whitmer claimed the right to exert this total control over Michigan's citizens, without any legislative input, by pointing to the state's 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act. The State Supreme Court has now opined that the statute is unconstitutional. Whitmer, however, is pushing back, loath to give up the power she's enjoyed for so many months now.
Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order" went into effect at the end of March, while people were still talking about a short-term exercise in "flattening the curve." Whitmer quarantined everyone, locking people in their homes except for allowing them to go to major chain stores or work for (and still get paid by) the government.
As time passed, Whitmer's orders got more detailed, with carve-outs for activities that raised taxes or advanced social policies. Thus, the lockdowns did not stop alcohol, pot, and lottery tickets purchases, as well as abortions. She also issued orders affecting harmless or constitutionally protected behavior, such as banning travel to vacation homes, forcing stores to close whole sections, banning store advertising and hydroxychloroquine, and forbidding jet skiing and outdoor gardening.
Her decisions were devastating to people whose lives depended on these activities or businesses. Her most vicious act was to wage a brutal war against a 77-year-old barber who had to choose between ignoring her ban against personal grooming services and starving. It took two months before a judge finally set the matter to rest by ruling in favor of the barbershop.
The Supreme Court has finally ended — or at least, tried to end — Whitmer's despotic reign:
In a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications, the Michigan Supreme Court decided Friday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated her constitutional authority by continuing to issue orders to combat COVID-19 without the approval of state lawmakers.
The state's high court ruled 4-3 that a state law allowing the governor to declare emergencies and keep them in place without legislative input — the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act — is unconstitutional.
The court was unanimous in ruling that a separate law — the 1976 Emergency Management Act — did not give Whitmer the power, after April 30, to issue or renew any executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic after 28 days without Legislative approval.
It's still too early for Michiganders to start celebrating. Whitmer seems to have enjoyed her flirtation with totalitarian power and is not prepared to give it up:
Whitmer said Friday she "vehemently" disagreed with the court's ruling, which she said made Michigan an "outlier" among the majority of states that have emergency orders in place.
The governor said that even after the Supreme Court ruling takes effect, her directives will remain in place through "alternative sources of authority."
Whitmer's fury at seeing her wings clipped reminds us how extraordinary two men have been in American history: George Washington and, believe it or not, Donald Trump. Both of them rejected, rather than grasped, power.
After Washington had served two terms as the first president of the young nation, people entreated him to seek a third term. Desperate to return to his beloved Mt. Vernon, and aware that he was setting a precedent for America's future executive officers, Washington refused to continue as president.
King George III, when he learned about Washington's plans, was dumbfounded. That someone would walk away from power was an utterly alien notion. "If he does that," said the king, "he will be the greatest man in the world."
The great irony is that Donald Trump, the man every leftist hysterically calls a fascist dictator, is also disinterested in power. He has a vision for America, but it does not involve him accruing more power or even retaining it.
In less than four years, Trump has dedicated himself to shrinking the federal government, which is a president's power base. He's cut regulations, tried to rein in federal agencies, and walked America back from unnecessary overseas involvement, and, during the height of the pandemic, when he might have seized power over every aspect of life in America, he rigidly held to the notion of federalism that saw him assisting the states' governors, all of whom presumably knew best what their states needed.
Can you imagine in what straits American would have been had Whitmer, not Trump, been in the White House? She wouldn't even have had to pack the Supreme Court to maintain her power base. She would have just done what she's doing now, which is to ignore it or maintain that same overreaching power by other means.
Image: Gretchen Whitmer (edited in Pixlr) by Julia Pickett. CC BY-SA 4.0.