On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic orders are considered unconstitutional and are no longer in effect. The governor sought to enforce a transition period on October 5, but the Supreme Court denied the motion.
The state’s highest court made their decision because the governor failed to obtain legislative approval before declaring a state of emergency, under the Emergency Management Act of 1976. Additionally, the justices declared she unconstitutionally exercised her executive authority through the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 to override the legislature’s rejection.
Even though Whitmer’s orders are no longer in effect, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has since issued its own emergency orders – similar to the governor’s previous orders – under the authority of the 1918 Spanish Flu Law that specifically relates to pandemics and epidemics. The new order requires face coverings in public and childcare facilities, as well as limits gathering sizes and the capacity in businesses and workplaces.
However, the new order does not address public meetings under the Michigan Open Meetings Act (OMA), including drain and water sources board meetings. Since March, these public entities have been conducting their meetings remotely.