Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, a response to the COVID-19 crisis, is a “draconian” measure that violates Michigan residents’ constitutional rights, a lawsuit said.
The lawsuit challenged provisions of the executive order that banned travel between primary and vacations homes and gatherings of non-household members.
It also attacked the closings of businesses, including landscaping and gun shops, while marijuana stores, with curbside service and delivery, remain open.
One of the plaintiffs, who has a landscaping business and a cottage, complained that he can’t even use his time off to take his son fishing on Lake Charlevoix because motorboats have been banned under the order.
Thousands converged on Lansing Wednesday, April 15, for “Operation Gridlock,” a protest of an executive order they consider too restrictive.
“Executive Order 2020-42 put in place draconian measures that arbitrarily and unreasonably impose restrictions and thus criminal sanctions on Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights and liberty,” attorneys Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi wrote in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.
A similar federal lawsuit has been filed in Detroit.
The governor’s office declined to comment on pending litigation.
Whitmer has said that social distancing and adherence to her executive order appear to be working. The state, particularly the east side, has been hard hit by COVID-19.
There have been 2,093 deaths and 28,059 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan.
“This is the most important tool we have … to save lives,” Whitmer said of people staying home.
“If everyone keeps doing their part … we’re going to get through this (and rebuild) our economy. … Come April 30, we can start thinking about … getting back to living life the way we are accustomed to,” Whitmer said.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit think that the executive order could be extended.
The plaintiffs are Kimberly Beemer, a Saginaw attorney, Paul Cavanaugh, who has a Livingston County landscaping business, and Muise, an Ann Arbor attorney and one of the American Freedom Center lawyers who filed the complaint.
They named Whitmer, along with county prosecutors in Charlevoix, Livingston and Washtenaw counties, as defendants.
Both Beemer and Cavanaugh have cottages in Charlevoix they now cannot use because of travel provisions in the executive order, they said. There is little chance they would spread the coronavirus to Northern Michigan, the lawsuit said.
“In fact, (Beemer) and members of her household are more isolated at the cottage than when they are at their home in Saginaw,” it said.
Cavanaugh said he has been hurt financially with his landscaping business closed. With an early spring, he missed out on $25,000 in spring cleanups, $12,000 in fertilizing, $30,000 mowing and $35,000 installing landscape, the lawsuit said.
Muise, the attorney, was in the U.S. Marine Corps 13 years and is a “staunch defender” of the Second Amendment.
Those rights are violated by closing of gun stores, he said.
“Due to the panic caused by the pandemic and the unemployment, loss of income, poverty, and uncertainty caused by Defendant Whitmer’s executive orders, owning and possessing firearms is critically important at this time,” the lawsuit said.
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