by WorldTribune Staff, May 31, 2020
The Department of Justice has filed a statement of interest in support of a lawsuit filed by seven Michigan businesses challenging Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown orders.
“The facts alleged suggest that Michigan has imposed arbitrary and irrational limits on Plaintiffs that, if established, could violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the DOJ said in the statement of interest.
“Our Constitution is enduring, and it is critically important that government comply fully with the Constitution in times of crisis,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
“The Constitution permits appropriate state and local government restrictions to protect the health and safety of Americans, but it does not permit arbitrary limits that limit the right of all people in our country to be treated equally and fairly by the government,” Dreiband said.
Whitmer has issued more than 100 coronavirus executive orders. The governor says her orders are “not optional,” saying during a May 11 press conference, “I expect people to follow the law. These executive orders are not a suggestion. They’re not optional. They’re not helpful hints.”
The DOJ said Whitmer’s orders impose “sweeping limitations on nearly all aspects of life for citizens of Michigan,” and are “significantly impairing in some instances their ability to maintain their economic livelihoods.”
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider said in a statement that Whitmer’s executive orders “arbitrarily discriminate” by allowing certain businesses to open while others must close.
“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,” Schneider said. “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.”
Whitmer said on Saturday that she had “followed the science and listened to medical experts” and that “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,” Whitmer continued. “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.”