AMERICA- On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, three GOP members of Michigan’s House of Representatives introduced House Resolution NO.324 to direct the impeachment of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The resolution was written by Reps. LaFave, Maddock, and Rendon and states that “In responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Gretchen E. Whitmer has acted in conflict with her constitutional duties as Governor. She has exceeded her constitutional authority, violated the constitutional rights of the people of Michigan, issued orders that are not in the best interests of the people of this state, and used the Pandemic as an opportunity to reward political allies.”
The resolution states that Whitmer violated the constitution by exercising powers granted to the legislative branch through many executives orders and opted to enact, repeal, and amend laws by bypassing the legislative process. Whitmer has issued dozens of executive orders which include, banning non-essential medical procedures, prohibiting evictions, permitting public bodies to delay the fulfillment of public records requests, requiring residents to stay in their homes, and closing business.
Michigan law grants the Governor emergency powers in order to respond to immediate crises, but the Governor must act consistently with the separation of powers granted in the state constitution. The Governor cannot bypass the legislative process to unilaterally amend or make laws regarding public health.
According to the resolution Whitmer violated the rights of the people through executive orders that restricted and banned the free exercise of religion in violation of the U.S constitution.
Whitmer also banned non-essential medical, dental and veterinary care and granted exceptions only for medical emergencies. The resolution states that “This universal, state-wide prohibition on medical, dental, and veterinary care that the Governor has deemed “non-essential” has had significant consequences for the people of Michigan and for health care providers across our state. While postponing some elective procedures may not pose an immediate health risk to patients, many procedures have been banned even though they are still needed to preserve patients’ quality of life and long-term well-being.”
The resolution also states that Whitmer rewarded political allies by directing “a no-bid contract for COVID-19 contact tracing to a partisan political firm.” In April of 2020, Michigan approved a contract to utilize the platform EveryAction VAN for contract tracing. “EveryAction VAN has direct ties to people and organizations that perform political work for political parties, organizations, and candidates in Michigan. While the Governor and members of the administration disputed the extent to which political considerations were part of the decision to choose this platform, there is no dispute that EveryAction VAN’s leadership also does political work through its other companies. The contract was canceled after it became public and faced backlash, but the attempt to award a no-bid contract to a partisan firm that would have granted access to extremely personal and sensitive information of Michigan’s citizens is a clear abuse of power. Using the urgency of a public health crisis to attempt to reward partisan allies is a violation of the public trust.”
In order to impeach a Governor, Michigan law requires a majority vote by the House of Representatives. Republicans currently have a 58-52 majority. The case would then be prosecuted in the Senate where two-thirds of senators must vote in order to convict the Governor. Republicans currently have a 22-16 majority, which means three Democrats must vote to affirm the removal of the Governor.
Michigan’s supreme court ruled on October 2, 2020, that the Governor does not have the authority to continue the state of emergency under the Mighigans Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945 and the Emergency Management Act from 1976.
Justice Stephen J. Markman wrote in the majority opinion that “We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government– including its plenary police powers– and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely. As a consequence, the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers.”
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution. Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Penisula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.” Governor Whitmer said in a statement on October 2, 2020.
On Sunday, November 15, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a new emergency order that went into effect on Wednesday, November 18.