(WXYZ) — The US Department of Justice is stepping into a lawsuit filed against Governor Whitmer by seven Michigan businesses that challenges the governor's executive orders issued as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DOJ has filed a "Statement of Interest" in the case. Officials say the effort is part of the DOJ's review of state and local policies to ensure civil liberties are protected during the pandemic.
“I have no doubt about the governor’s good intentions, but the Executive Orders arbitrarily discriminate by allowing some businesses to operate while similar businesses must close or limit their operations—and if they refuse, they face fines and possible jail time,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, who, with Assistant Attorney General Dreiband, is overseeing the Justice Department’s effort to monitor state and local polices relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Under the Governor’s Orders, it’s ok to go to a hardware store and buy a jacket, but it’s a crime to go inside a clothing store and buy the identical jacket without making an appointment. That’s arbitrary. As important as it is that we stay safe during these challenging times, it is also important to remember that we do not abandon our freedoms and our dedication to the rule of law in times of emergency."
Governor Whitmer responded to the development with the following statement:
“Throughout this crisis, we have followed the science and listened to medical experts to keep our hospital system from collapsing and protect front line health workers who are looking out for the people of Michigan. All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. The state has already loosened restrictions on construction, manufacturing, real estate and retail, with more expected in the coming days. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made.
“We have absolute confidence in the legal authority I have exercised to protect the people of Michigan. It is crystal clear that this challenge is coming directly from the White House, which is ignoring the risk of a second wave of the virus and pushing too quickly to roll back public health guidelines. We know that will only prolong the pandemic and make the economic pain that much worse for Michiganders. No matter what happens, I will always put the health and safety of Michiganders first.”
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.
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