Michigan nurses, senators support Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus response efforts amid lawsuits

Michigan Court of Claims will hear arguments on Friday on the lawsuit against Gov. Whitmer filed by Republican legislators

In this photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool)
In this photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool)

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) stood in support of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the day before arguments will be made in court against her.

Last week Republican Michigan legislators filed a lawsuit against Gov. Whitmer for extending the state’s emergency status through May 28 without legislative approval.

MNA filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit against Whitmer, proclaiming that the governor’s executive orders “provide protection for nurses and other healthcare professionals."

Others have also filed lawsuits against the governor, claiming her recent executive orders issued amid the pandemic are unlawful and violate constitutional rights.

MORE: Legislators suing Michigan Gov. Whitmer say she can’t ‘rule the entire state on her own’

Whitmer has since extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 28 and defends her actions meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

MORE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer refuses to back down despite threats over executive orders

As of May 14 Michigan has reported 49,582 COVID-19 cases and 4,787 deaths. The state has seen a recent decrease in the rate of growth of cases and deaths, but still has the third-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the country.

MNA’s Board of Directors, comprised of many nurses who are working with COVID-19 patients, say that Whitmer’s protections are a “life-and-death issue."

“The Michigan Nurses Association has a special interest in protecting the governor’s ability to act because our members, many of whom are fighting on the COVID-19 frontline, rely on the protections afforded by her executive action,” said Jamie Brown, RN and MNA President. “The stay-home orders, in particular, are flattening the curve and saving lives -- including greatly reducing the deadly risk to nurses and healthcare workers.”

The amicus brief filed by MNA claims that the governor has the authority to issue executive orders under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 and the Emergency Management Act of 1976.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also showed support of Whitmer’s actions by saying that her executive orders are lawful and enforceable until or unless a court rules otherwise.

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) -- comprised of 83 elected county prosecutors -- released a statement on Thursday saying the governor’s orders are in effect and can be enforced.

“We will continue to request that violations of the Executive Orders be investigated by the police and prosecutors will review those on a case‐by‐case basis to determine if criminal charges are appropriate,” the statement reads. “It is important for businesses and communities to remember that criminal penalties are not the only, or even primary way to enforce the orders. License sanctions or revocations by state agencies and local health departments are also possible. Likewise, the Attorney General’s Office and Michigan State Police can enforce criminal penalties for violations of the Executive Orders.”

Michigan Senate Democrats also filed an amicus brief on Thursday to express disproval of the lawsuit and their belief that the legislature is not designed to swiftly address matters of life and death amid the pandemic -- they believe that is the job of the governor.

“This discussion is not and should not be about who has what power,” said Michigan Senator Jim Ananich. “This discussion is about who is in the best position to keep us safe. In the case of a deadly global pandemic, that person is clearly the governor, regardless of her party. It is a shame that we are having to devote time and resources to this politically-fueled lawsuit while there is so much more the Legislature should be doing to support Michigan families during this difficult time.”

The Court of Claims will hear arguments on Friday regarding the lawsuit filed by Michigan lawmakers against Gov. Whitmer.

Read our latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic here.

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