Before March 10, 2020, Michigan’s Emergency Powers of Governor Act was used 11 times in response to five emergency situations: labor unrest in Hillsdale in 1964, urban riots in 1967, more riots in 1968, high mercury levels in waters near St. Clair in 1970 and for a riot in Ypsilanti in 1970. Created in response to a 1943 Detroit riot, its use, with one exception, was limited to immediate and relatively short-lived civil disturbances. Its constitutionality was repeatedly challenged, especially when applied to situations that did not involve rioting. Whether it is appropriate to use in a long-term, statewide effort to mitigate the harms of a global pandemic is yet to be determined.
[Author's note: See Update and Corrections for the most recent information.]