Amid growing backlash to what many in the state view as an excessive “stay-at-home” order, which is the strictest in the nation, several Michigan residents and at least one business have filed federal lawsuits against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer accusing her of “draconian encroachments” on constitutionally protected rights.
Whitmer has become the focal point of a growing protest movement in the state. On Wednesday, demonstrators carried out “Operation Gridlock” at the Michigan State Capitol, where thousands of cars jammed the roads to protest Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, one of the most restrictive in the country.
Thousands of people from all over Michigan are converging on our state Capitol today to protest the governor’s restrictive “Stay Home” order and get their voices, and car horns, heard. #OperationGridlock pic.twitter.com/bgjH4wKCUQ
— MI House Republicans (@MI_Republicans) April 15, 2020
Meanwhile, a petition calling for the recall of the governor launched just a few days ago has already amassed over 260,000 signatures. “Her failures during the Covid-19 Corona Virus is causing more Michiganders to get sick,” the petition reads. “Closing and banning various non essential business’s and activities while leaving others open. Further promoting the pandemic.”
Now, at least two federal lawsuits have been filed against the embattled Democratic governor.
“In complaints filed on Tuesday and Wednesday, several Michigan residents and one business accused the Democratic governor of violating their constitutional rights by imposing her ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order,” Reuters reported Thursday.
Both of the lawsuits argue that Whitmer’s executive order violates the constitutional rights of residents, particularly their First Amendment and due process rights, Reuters reports. One of the lawsuits specifies that the order violates Second Amendment rights by closing down gun shops.
The lawsuit filed on Wednesday states that the plaintiffs “reasonably fear that the draconian encroachments on their freedom set forth in this complaint will, unfortunately, become the ‘new norm.'”
“The plaintiffs in Tuesday’s lawsuit filed in Detroit include four Michigan residents. One owns a landscaping business, and another said he is forbidden to see his girlfriend of 14 years because they live in different homes,” Reuters explains. “Two lawyers and the owner of a different landscaping business are plaintiffs in Wednesday’s lawsuit, which is being handled in Grand Rapids.”
The group that organized “Operation Gridlock,” the Michigan Conservative Coalition (MCC), similarly accuses Whitmer of infringing on constitutionally enshrined rights and points to a larger pattern of abuse by other progressive governors. A spokesperson for the group, Meshawn Maddock, told News 10 Wednesday that Whitmer’s order is doing unnecessary damage to businesses. “There is no reason why she can’t be looking at some safe ways to be opening up businesses. Instead of talking about what’s essential and nonessential, let’s talk about what’s safe and not safe,” Maddock told the local station. “Safe businesses and safe workers need to get back to work.”
“Citizens are frankly tired of being treated like babies,” MCC co-founder Marian Sheridan said in a statement. “As adults, we now know what needs to be done to stay safe.”
In response to the growing pushback against her “draconian” order, Whitmer insists that she really wants residents to have their freedom back and asked for more patience. “I want you to have your freedom, I want mine too. We will get to a place where we can be with our friends and family again, where restaurants will open again, where we can go back to work safely again,” said the governor. “We have a few tough days ahead of us, but those days where we can resume some normalcy, they are on the horizon if we keep doing what we need to do to get past this moment.”