MIDLAND, Mich. — More than a year and a half after a victory at the Michigan Supreme Court, the state will pay the Mackinac Center for Public Policy $200,000 in attorneys fees. The payments come after the court overturned Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders in 2020. An agreement about these fees was reached with the offices of the governor, attorney general and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The Mackinac Center, in conjunction with the Grand Rapids-based Miller Johnson law firm, filed a lawsuit in May 2020 challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Whitmer’s emergency authority. The suit was filed on behalf of medical providers and a patient. These clients had been harmed by the governor’s orders that required providers to stop seeing patients unless the visit was deemed “essential,” as loosely defined by the state.
On Oct. 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously decided that the governor’s attempt to continue a state of emergency without legislative approval was illegal. In an additional 4-3 ruling in the same case, the court declared unconstitutional the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945. This is the law the governor argued gave her unilateral control for as long as she determined it was necessary. This decision restored the separation of powers, once again giving Michiganders a voice through their lawmakers, and struck down every executive order issued since April 30, 2020.
While the attorney general, governor and MDHHS continue to deny liability, they have agreed to pay the $200,000 fee, which will be divided evenly among them. A "fee shifting statute" allows plaintiffs whose constitutional rights have been violated to seek fees from the defendants. The Center does not charge its clients for representation and will use the money to help offset costs incurred litigating against the governor’s unconstitutional use of power.
“For five months, Gov. Whitmer disregarded the law, suppressed civil liberties and controlled the day-to-day activities of 10 million Michigan residents,” said Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center. “During this time, the governor’s orders sought to micromanage almost every aspect of our lives. We are proud to have successfully brought a suit restoring freedom to all Michiganders, and we remain vigilant to prevent future arbitrary governmental action.”
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
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