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Michigan Supreme Court: Whitmer's virus orders invalidated immediately

Justices voted 6-1 Monday against halting the precedential effect of its opinion until Oct. 30.
Credit: AP
In a photo from Jan. 17, 2020, the Michigan Hall of Justice is seen in Lansing, Mich. The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down key changes to the state's ballot drive law on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. The ruling was the second in fourth months to negate much of the law that was enacted by Republican-led Legislature and then-Gov. Rick Snyder in a contentious lame-duck session in 2018. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday rejected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request to delay by 28 days the effect of its decision striking down a law she had used to keep intact sweeping orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Justices voted 6-1 against halting the precedential effect of its Oct. 2 opinion until Oct. 30. They also reaffirmed their initial 4-3 ruling that declared the 1945 emergency powers law unconstitutional, this time in a lawsuit brought by the Republican-led Legislature.

Executive orders issued under the law “are of no continuing legal effect. This order is effective upon entry,” the court wrote.

RELATED: Michigan Supreme Court strikes down governor’s virus orders

Whitmer, a Democrat, had asked the justices to give her administration, lawmakers and local health departments 28 days to transition in the wake of the major decision. Her administration last week quickly reinstituted mask requirements, gathering limits and other restrictions with orders issued by the state health department under a different law.

Legislators and Whitmer are negotiating legislation related to other orders negated by the decision, including an extension of unemployment benefits to 26 weeks from 20 weeks.

RELATED: MDHHS emergency order requires masks, restricts gatherings and limits venues

One reason there has been confusion after the ruling is because it reached the Supreme Court in an uncommon way. A federal judge overseeing a lawsuit that makes state and federal claims about Whitmer’s powers asked for an opinion on the constitutionality of two laws related to gubernatorial emergency powers.

The Supreme Court answered but did not issue a judgment or order. On Monday, it ruled in a similar case brought by the GOP-controlled House and Senate and said in an order that the decision is effective immediately.


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