April 29, 2020
LANSING – In a decision today, the Michigan Court of Claims sided with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and denied a motion for preliminary injunction holding that the current Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, and earlier versions of it, did not infringe upon the constitutional rights of Michigan residents, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.
The plaintiffs in Martinko et. al. v. Whitmer et. al. alleged that the “mandatory quarantine” imposed by the Stay Home, Stay Safe order (EO 2020-59) and the intrastate travel restrictions contained in an earlier version of the order (EO 2020-42) violate their rights to both procedural due process and substantive due process.
In the first substantive ruling examining the constitutionality of the executive orders, Court of Claims Judge Christopher M. Murray acknowledged in his opinion that the rights asserted by plaintiffs are fundamental.
“But those liberty interests are, and always have been, subject to society’s interests – society being our fellow residents. They – our fellow residents – have an interest to remain unharmed by a highly communicable and deadly virus, and since the state entered the Union in 1837, it has had the broad power to act for the public health of the entire state when faced with a public crisis.”
Murray stated that issuing injunctive relief “would not serve the public interest, despite the temporary harm to plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”
The plaintiffs also alleged that the Emergency Management Act is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the Governor, but the Court noted the act does not provide the Governor with “uncontrolled, arbitrary power.” Instead, he indicated that the act provides for very specific procedures and criteria for the Governor to declare a state of disaster or emergency, and what conditions qualify as a disaster or emergency.
“I am pleased with the court’s decision,” Nessel said. “This pandemic has already taken more than 3,600 lives in Michigan and many more around the world. The primary goal of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order has always been to protect human life.”