The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate joined forces on Wednesday to sue Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) after she bypassed the legislature to extend the state of emergency declaration.
“Only the Legislature has the power to extend the state of emergency,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) told reporters on Wednesday, adding the law is “very clear,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
“The Legislature is left with no choice but to seek the court’s intervention to restore constitutional order,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said.
Chatfield contended Whitmer opted to “go it alone,” and not work with the legislature.
“Because of that we filed a lawsuit today in the Court of Claims, challenging the governor’s unconstitutional actions,” Chatfield said, according to the Detroit News.
“Today was very avoidable, but it is necessary. It’s a sad day for our state because we truly should all be working together.”
The duo are seeking a “speedy hearing” for the suit, and would like the court to find that Whitmer’s “ongoing ‘emergency’ orders are improper and invalid” under Michigan law.
Last week, both the House and Senate passed resolutions allowing their respective leaders to pursue legal action against Whitmer after she extended the state of emergency, which expired April 28.
Her action required the shuttering of bars, restaurants, casinos, and theaters for another 28 days.
“If she does not recognize the end of the emergency declaration, we have no other choice, but to act for our constituents,” Shirkey said, the News reported.
Amid confusion over the validity and clarity of Whitmer’s declarations, Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a letter to law enforcement agencies “confirming” they should be taking action against violators of social distancing and other stay-at-home regulations.
“Nessel finds the two orders to be valid under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act and asks local law enforcement agencies to continue their enforcement efforts,” her office said.