OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Four Michigan residents, three from Oakland County and one from Roscommon County, are suing Governor Gretchen Whitmer over her executive stay-at-home order, arguing it's overreaching and conflicts with state and federal law.
Their attorney, David Helm, told 7 Action News his clients aren't arguing Gov. Whitmer's authority to issue the order, or that it was mandated in the public interest; but he claims the state is taking too much without offering enough in return.
In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, Helm seeks relief for his clients under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, claiming Gov. Whitmer's extended stay-at-home order unfairly infringes on their rights "to associate with friends and family and utilize their private property."
"We believe what the governor has done with her orders is over-broad and overreaching. Taking a sledgehammer to an ant," Helm told 7 Action News.
One of his clients owns a landscaping company in Oakland County. Landscaping is not deemed essential under the order, and Helm's client had to lay off 15 workers.
“That amounts to a taking by the government of private property, which is authorized under the Constitution but when done so, they need to be justly compensated for it.”
The debate over landscaping has been ongoing since the stay-at-home order was extended earlier this month.
Helm said the state's expansion of unemployment benefits and the federal stimulus is not enough compensation for what his clients have lost due to temporarily closing their business and laying off employees.
“They might have been compensated some, but it’s not fair market value.”
Another one of Helm's clients is unable to visit their long-time girlfriend because they don't live together, and he also represents a married couple angry that they're unable to return home to Oakland County, because they were at their cabin in Sanilac County, which they own, when Executive Order 2020-42 took effect.
Helm said he plans to file a motion Wednesday or Thursday for an expedited hearing to try and get a temporary restraining order and an injunction to stop Gov. Whitmer from enforcing the order.
"If you’re going to impede on these fundamental rights, then the government needs to tailor their approach," he told Action News.
We reached out to Gov. Whitmer's office for a comment. Spokesperson Tiffany Brown said as a practice, they do not comment on pending litigation.
Read the full lawsuit below:
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