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77-year-old Michigan barber who fought executive orders calls for charges against him to be dropped after court ruling

Barber Karl Manke smiles as the crowd cheers during his entrance to a press conference on Monday, May 18, 2020 outside of Karl Manke's Barber and Beauty in Owosso. Michigan business owners, as well as Texas hairstylist Shelley Luther stood alongside Manke as each encouraged Michigan and its residents to open up businesses despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's state order. (ake May |
October 08, 2020

The owner of an Owosso barber shop who become a figurehead for those opposed to executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer amid the COVID-19 pandemic is calling for all charges against him to be dropped after the state high court’s ruling.

The Michigan Supreme Court decision on Friday, Oct. 2, ruled the governor does not have authority to extend emergency orders under two emergency acts — the Emergency Management Act from 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945.

Neither act, the court ruled, gave Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the authority to continue declaring states of emergency or issuing unilateral orders under them past April 30, when her initial declaration would have expired.

Karl Manke, 77, had fought those executive orders, reopening May 4 despite Whitmer’s executive order that shut down salons and barbershops since March 17 in the state. Those businesses were allowed to reopen June 15.

“I appreciate the Supreme Court stepping in and recognizing that I do not lose constitutional protections just because of speculation and innuendo. I am not a health threat to anyone, and I have a right to continue to cut hair and earn a living,” said Manke in a prepared statement. “The Courts have consistently upheld my constitutional rights affirming that the Governor’s attempts to shut me down were out of line.”

It has been the argument by Manke and his attorney David A. Kallman that the governor’s orders were unconstitutional and hurt businesses. His license had been suspended amid the legal wrangling with the state.

Attorney General Dana Nessel previously said Manke’s decision to continue cutting hair was in violation of the governor’s executive orders “as well as other health orders (that) put the public at risk for contracting COVID-19.”

“I am pleased that our Supreme Court upheld our constitutional rights, and that cooler heads have prevailed. Our clients are not a threat to the public’s health, safety, and welfare,” said Kallman. “This is a great day for upholding the rule of law and restoring good governance. I trust Governor Whitmer will comply with the Court’s ruling now.”

Manke still faces two misdemeanor charges for violation of the executive order and a health department violation, per court records.

In regard to the court’s ruling, Whitmer told reporters Monday, Oct. 5 she was seeking clarity from the court on if those orders would remain in place until Oct. 30 or if the ruling would immediately go into effect.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency public health order Monday afternoon requiring masks and limiting gatherings after the court’s ruling.


© 2020