Michigan Residents File Lawsuit Over Governor Whitmer’s Stay-at-Home Order

April 16, 2020 Updated: April 16, 2020

Four Michigan residents are suing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her stay-at-home order, alleging it clashes with both state and federal law.

While Whitmer had the authority to issue the order, the mandate is overreaching, the attorney representing the quartet said.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges Whitmer’s order infringes on the residents’ rights “to associate with friends and family and utilize their private property.” It also states that a person’s choice to maintain human relationships and associate with other individuals under the First Amendment “must be secured against undue intrusion by the State.”

“We believe what the governor has done with her orders is over-broad and overreaching. Taking a sledgehammer to an ant,” David Helm, the lawyer, told WXYZ.

Helm is seeking relief under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The Fourteenth Amendment states in part: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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A worker walks by rows of beds in a convention hall at the Suburban Collection Showplace, which is being converted into a field hospital to treat CCP virus patients in Novi, Michigan, on April 11, 2020. (Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

One of the four people suing is a landscaper who owns his own company. Because landscaping wasn’t included under the business categories deemed “essential,” the man was forced to lay off his 15 workers.

Another client can’t visit his long-time girlfriend because they don’t live together. The two others are a married couple who can’t return to their house because, when Whitmer’s order took effect, they were in their cabin.

“Our position is, ordering businesses to shut down, preventing residents and citizens from accessing their second homes within the state is essentially a taking and they need to be compensated for it,” Helm told Fox 2.

“We are not arguing for political dissidence or any sort of protest. What we are saying, is that people have the right to associate with their friends and family. And that is being unjustly infringed.”

A representative of Whitmer told news outlets that the governor wouldn’t be commenting on pending litigation.

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People gather on the Capitol’s steps to express their unhappiness with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Safe, Stay Home executive order in Lansing, Michigan, on April 15, 2020. (Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

Helm hopes to obtain a temporary restraining order on the governor’s order.

Whitmer’s order, issued earlier this month, banned “travel between residences.” It also requires large retailers to close off sections dedicated to items that are considered nonessential, including flooring, furniture, gardening, paint, gardening supplies, and others.

It drew widespread criticism from residents and officials, including U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who said the order “goes too far and will erode confidence in her leadership.”

Protesters swarmed the state capitol building in Lansing on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the harsh measures.

Most states in the country have lockdowns in place to try to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged from mainland China last year, but few are as restrictive as the one Whitmer issued.

The governor is also facing a recall petition that’s garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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