In response to the rapidly increasing outbreak of COVID-19, on March 24, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-21, directing Michigan residents to remain at their home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible. Many businesses were temporarily shut down unless deemed essential, and individuals were limited to traveling outside their homes.
On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray denied a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by several Michigan residents who claimed that the various COVID-19-related executive orders issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, including the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, and the related intrastate travel restrictions, infringed on their constitutional rights. Specifically, the previous executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer that required residents to stay home and restricted travel were alleged to have violated Plaintiffs’ rights to both procedural due process and substantive due process.
The Judge determined that the plaintiffs have not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in their challenge to the executive order restrictions.
Judge Christopher Murray further noted in his opinion that, “It is true that this measure is a severe one, and greatly restricts each of our liberties to move about as we see fit, as we do in normal times. But the governor determined that severe measures were necessary, and had to be quickly implemented to prevent the uncontrolled spreading of the virus.”
This procedural denial of the request for a preliminary injunction does not resolve the overall merits of the case in question, but does give an indication of the Judge’s opinion as to the potential success of the plaintiffs in this case.
NOTE: On April 30, Governor Whitmer replaced prior orders with Executive Order 2020-69, to be in force through May 28, 2020.
We have created a response team to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and the law and guidance that follows, so we will continue to post any new developments. You can view our COVID-19 Response Page and additional resources by following the link here. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.