U.S. Attorney General Backs Michigan Businesses' Lawsuit Against Governor Whitmer's Restrictions

Schneider: "Our Constitution is enduring, and it is critically important that government comply fully with the Constitution in times of crisis”

WWJ News
May 29, 2020 - 10:26 pm
attorney general William Barr

Win McNamee

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(WWJ) U.S. Attorney General William Barr is standing behind seven Michigan businesses who filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictions.

In a statement, Barr called on Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District, Matthew Schneider, to review Michigan’s policies to make sure the civil liberties of Michiganders are protected amid the pandemic.

The lawsuit claims the Governor’s orders are “arbitrary and discriminate against their businesses by treating them differently than other similar businesses.”

The plaintiffs include a real estate brokerage, a landscaping company, a jewelry store, a dentist, an engine oil and auto parts distributor, an automotive glass explorer, and an association of car washes. It was filed in the Western Michigan District.

Governor Whitmer signed over 100 executive orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, the statement reads, “that impose limitations on nearly all aspects of life for citizens of Michigan, significantly impairing in some instances their ability to maintain their economic livelihoods.”

Dreiband said the U.S. Constitution must always be abided by, especially in tough times.

“Our Constitution is enduring, and it is critically important that government comply fully with the Constitution in times of crisis,” he said in the 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.”

Schneider said he believes Governor Whitmer has “good intentions,” but the orders are inconsistent and do not make sense.  

“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. That’s arbitrary,” Schneider said. “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."

In a response to Attorney General Barr’s statement; Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she follows the science, data and guidance of medical experts.

“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again….But 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,” Whitmer said in a statement.

 She added she has already loosened several restrictions and has not abused her authority.

“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….” Whitmer said, “No matter what happens, I will always put the health and safety of Michiganders first.”

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Governor Whitmer's full statement: 

"Governor Gretchen Whitmer today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Justice issuing a statement of interest, which seeks to undermine the health and safety of Michigan residents:   

“Throughout this crisis, we have followed the science and listened to medical experts to keep our hospital system from collapsing and protect front line health workers who are looking out for the people of Michigan. All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. The state has already loosened restrictions on construction, manufacturing, real estate and retail, with more expected in the coming days. But 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. 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. We know that will only prolong the pandemic and make the economic pain that much worse for Michiganders. No matter what happens, I will always put the health and safety of Michiganders first.” "