In a 4-3 decision, Michigan’s Supreme Court said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) lacked the power to unilaterally extend a state of emergency declaration, and also held that a 1945 law Whitmer used to do so was unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen J. Markman said:

“We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA [the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act] is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government– including its plenary police powers– and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely.” 

Whitmer said:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution. Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April. 

The court’s order goes into effect in 21 days. Whitmer’s order curbing public and private activity remain in force until then, though her office said not all of the restrictions will end as they were not covered in the court’s ruling.

A group called Unlock Michigan has filed more than half a million petition signatures to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.