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4 MI sheriffs declare they won’t enforce governor’s stay-at-home orders: ‘She’s overstepping her authority’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton/released).
April 16, 2020

Four Michigan sheriffs signed a letter on Wednesday declaring they will not strictly enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state-wide coronavirus emergency orders, which they characterized as an overreach of her powers as governor.

Sheriffs for Michigan’s 101st House District, including Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich, Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel, Manistee County Sheriff Ken Falk and Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, all signed the letter announcing their decision not to enforce Whitmer’s emergency order.

“We write today to inform the public of our respective counties of our opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders,” the letter states. “While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority. She has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan citizens.”

Whitmer initially enacted her coronavirus executive order on March 23, with plans for the order to expire on April 13. On April 9, she issued an extension of the closures through a new executive order set to run until April 30. The order further banned all travel between homes.

Michigan Live reported violations of these expansive stay-at-home orders could come with civil fines of up to $1,000 and further licensing sanctions for businesses in violation of the orders.

Whitmer’s orders have also gone as far as to require some stores that sell essential items make lines regulating how many people are in the store and close off other sections of the store that sell items not deemed essential, such as furniture, gardening materials, and paint. Those stores are also required to establish at least two-hour blocks per week to only accommodate shopping for vulnerable groups like pregnant women and those over 60 years old or with chronic health conditions that create comorbidities for coronavirus fatalities.

Rather than strictly enforcing Whitmer’s orders against all potential violators, the sheriffs announced they “will deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense.”

They further cited their oaths to the Michigan constitution and to the U.S. constitution in their letter announcing the decision not to enforce Whitmer’s orders.

The sheriff’s also referenced their decision to defy Whitmer in the context of their belief that they need to work towards reopening areas of the Michigan economy that are currently blocked by her orders.

“Our focus needs to be on reopening our counties and getting people back to work. We also need to be aware that this virus is deadly and that we need to continue to practice social distancing, washing of hands, wearing of masks as well as other medically recommended measures,” the letter states. “Allowing those without paychecks back to work is imperative to the economic success and wellbeing of our community. We can do this in stages, especially those that work outside.”

The sheriff’s issued their letter as thousands of Michiganders protested outside the state capitol building in Lansing by forming a traffic jam in the surrounding streets.