(UnitedVoice.com) – For nearly nine months, GOP legislatures across America attempted to stop rogue Democratic governors from instituting draconian orders with little success. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans accepted that temporary shutdowns were needed to help the medical system brace for potential overruns of patients. However, no one expected that their liberties would be trampled on month after month as legislatures in some states were helpless to do anything about it, or so they thought.
Ten months later, many Democratic states are still shut down. In California, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faces the growing likelihood of a recall over his harsh actions, including violating his own orders. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) wrestled with the state GOP-dominated legislature in the courts, and the legislature found some success. Despite a state Supreme Court ruling, Whitmer found a way around their order.
The Michigan GOP decided to take matters into their own hands. In doing so, they have created a potential model for reigning in an out-of-control governor. Legislatures across the country may want to follow their lead.
Whitmer Creates Workaround Defying State Supreme Court
In October, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled a 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act was unconstitutional. Whitmer had used the law to justify harsh crackdowns on state citizens. At one point, she ordered people to remain in their houses, not even allowing them to talk to their neighbors. Additionally, the Michigan Court ruled a 1976 Emergency Management Act didn’t give her the power to enact executive orders for more than 28 days without approval from the legislature. They ruled all her executive orders null and void retroactive to April 30, 2020.
However, that didn’t deter the rogue governor. Instead of working with the legislature, she found another way. Instead of issuing pandemic orders herself, she began issuing them through the state Department of Health and Human Services. They were virtually the same orders the State Supreme Court already ruled unconstitutional.
Legislature Plays Hardball
Legislatures often forget about their abilities and powers to check and balance a governor (or president). GOP leaders say that Whitmer repeatedly failed to provide specific data for closure and reopening decisions. Instead of pursuing more action in the courts, the GOP used the power of the purse to control Whitmer’s behavior.
Michigan House Speaker Jason Wentworth issued a statement saying constituents no longer consent to the business and school closures, and they want answers. Due to the governor’s ongoing defiance, Republicans blocked 13 appointments to Whitmer’s administration and held up millions of dollars in funding. The GOP lawmakers want Whitmer to sign a law that would end both her and the Michigan Health Department’s emergency health powers.
The governor’s response was to call the GOP “cruel and reckless.”
However, small businesses are dying, livelihoods are being lost, and kids are falling behind academically because many schools have remained closed since March 2020.
Perhaps the Michigan legislature is showing other state legislatures how to reign in governors who ignore their co-equal branches of government.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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