The Michigan Supreme Court issued a split decision late Friday that ruled against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a battle over her power to extend emergency declarations used to mandate COVID-19 restrictions.
The court's decision throws in to question orders issued by Whitmer related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a 4-3 ruling, the court determined the governor did not have the authority under state law to issue any additional emergency declarations pertaining to the pandemic after April 30. That was the last date when the legislature allowed the governor to declare an emergency.
Whitmer has relied on an interpretation of an emergency powers law passed in 1945 and the Emergency Powers Act of 1976 to issue a litany of executive orders related to the pandemic. The orders mandated the closure of businesses and restricted the number of people allowed to gather at events, all in the name of safety and preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Not only was it a straight party vote, it was the Michigan GOP legislature that pushed this bull shit lawsuit:
House speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said on Twitter that the court ruled in agreement with the Legislature that the 1945 law is unconstitutional.
“The governor had no right to extend the state of emergency over the Legislature’s objection. Our Constitution matters, and this was a big win for our democratic process,” Chatfield said.
Lower courts have previously interpreted the 1945 law as giving the governor the ability to declare an emergency and then determine when the emergency is over.
It's one of two laws that allow a Michigan governor to declare an emergency. The 1976 Emergency Management Act includes time limit that requires the legislative approval to extend an emergency past 28 days.
The suit from the medical centers closely aligned with litigation filed by the GOP-led Michigan Legislature, which has argued Whitmer's unilateral powers violate the separation of powers in government.
And the timing couldn’t have been more convenient:
Today, after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the Upper Peninsula, or MERC Region 8, I signed an Executive Order that moves the region back to phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan. The executive order will go into effect Friday, October 9 at 12:01am.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) October 2, 2020
Unlock Michigan, the campaign to limit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, says it submitted 539,000 petition signatures to the state Friday, with a high-stakes fight over their validity expected to ensue.
The campaign's submission came the same day President Donald Trump announced he had tested positive for the virus and four days after Attorney General Dana Nessel launched a criminal investigation into the effort's signature-gathering practices.
Unlock Michigan's supporters collected signatures across the state over the last three months, hoping to advance the proposal to repeal a 1945 law that allows Whitmer, a Democrat, to declare a state of emergency and keep the declaration in place without input from lawmakers.
In three undercover videos released Wednesday, petition circulators tell residents they can sign the names of people who are not present, even though signing someone else’s name is unlawful.
Additional videos and photos show unattended petitions inside businesses. State law requires petition gatherers to witness the signatures.
The videos and photographs were released by Keep Michigan Safe, a group opposed to the petition drive.
Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday that her office is investigating Unlock Michigan, the group leading the petition drive, for using “deceptive” and potentially illegal tactics.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed felony charges against two well-known out-of-state Republican operatives for allegedly orchestrating robocalls aimed at suppressing the vote in the Detroit area, her office said Thursday.
Nessel has charged Jack Burkman, 54, of Virginia and Jacob Wohl, 22, of California with election law and conspiracy crimes that would bring up to 24 years behind bars for each of them if convicted.
“Any effort to interfere with, intimidate or intentionally mislead Michigan voters will be met with swift and severe consequences,” Nessel said in a statement. “This effort specifically targeted minority voters in an attempt to deter them from voting in the November election.”
Burkman and Wohl are each charged with intimidating voters, a five-year felony; conspiracy to commit an election law violation, a five-year felony; using a computer to commit an election law crime, a seven-year felony; and using a computer to commit a conspiracy crime, a seven-year felony.
Two former Republican secretaries of state filed Tuesday a lawsuit in federal court, challenging Michigan's plan to count absentee ballots that are postmarked no later than the day before the election but arrive up to 14 days afterward.
The suit in the Western District of Michigan, which Democrats labeled as an attempt to suppress the vote, is the latest escalation in a legal fracas focused on a state that President Donald Trump won by 10,704 votes in 2016. The suit argues that Michigan's current policy risks placing “the resolution of the contest past dates Congress has set for” the so-called safe-harbor deadline for settling disputes of Dec. 8 and the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote.
“It will remain unknown who wins the state’s vote for at least 14 days after Election Day, and any contest about the ultimate result is unlikely to reach a conclusion before the safe-harbor deadline or even before the vote of the Electoral College,” the new lawsuit says.
The 14-day period would leave 21 days before the Dec. 8 safe-harbor date for possible ballot recounts, county canvassing board and Michigan Board of State Canvassers' reviews and certifications of the votes, as well as the approval of the state's presidential electors. The safe harbor date is the deadline by which states must choose their electors in the Electoral College.
“There is a substantial risk that plaintiffs’ votes will be completely meaningless, if either Michigan loses its representation in the Electoral College or its asserted results do not qualify for the safe harbor,” the suit adds.
There’s a lot of attention on Michigan. Moscow Mitch is trying to buy a U.S. Senate seat:
A Republican super PAC, aligned with the party’s Senate leadership, will infuse $9 million into the Senate race in Michigan where incumbent Democrat Gary Peters faces GOP challenger John James.
The Senate Leadership Fund is placing the buy Thursday, and the spots will air statewide beginning Saturday on TV and radio.
SLF President Steven Law called James “an incredibly impressive advocate for Michigan families and jobs who is taking the fight to Peters for leaving Michiganders hanging in a pandemic.”
Though Peters has held the edge in the polls and is favored to win, James, a retired Apache helicopter pilot in the Army, has been a prolific fundraiser. And the race has tightened since the summer. It’s one of the GOP’s two pickup opportunities, along with Doug Jones’ seat in Alabama, in a Senate map that otherwise favors Democrats.
Here’s the latest polling:
#NEW Michigan Post Debate Poll:
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 2, 2020
Peters has been endorsed by The Detroit Free Press:
Republicans and Democrats in Michigan are every bit as polarized as their counterparts elsewhere. Yet for most of the last hundred years, both our state's major political parties have produced U.S. senators who distinguished themselves by providing courageous bipartisan leadership in times of national upheaval.
Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, a Grand Rapids Republican whose storied Senate career spanned four decades, began as an isolationist who supported the appeasement of Nazi aggression. But he evolved after 1945 into an energetic internationalist who rallied bipartisan support for the Democratic president's Marshall Plan and the fledgling United Nations. A generation later Sen. Robert Griffin, another Michigan Republican, helped to secure passage of President Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Act, then led the delegation of Republican senators that persuaded Richard Nixon to resign in 1974.
Democrat Sen. Phil Hart, who represented Michigan in the tumultuous 18 years spanning the presidencies of Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford, was recognized by colleagues in both parties as the Conscience of the Senate. Sen. Carl Levin, the Democrat elected to succeed Griffin in 1979, quickly became the Senate's premier authority on national defense.
Sen. GARY PETERS, who succeeded Levin when he retired six years ago, has been a worthy heir to Michigan's remarkable legacy of bipartisan leadership. Peters has achieved more in his first term than many senators accomplish in their careers, and we enthusiastically support his re-election in November's general election.
While the groups' support of Peters is somewhat expected, their endorsements are a sign of the incumbent's potential strength with unions in Michigan. Among those that have endorsed Peters are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and the United Auto Workers.
“I grew up in a union household, my father was a public school teacher and my mom was a union steward, and my parents instilled in me the importance of hard work, determination and integrity,” Peters said. “Those are the values I’ve carried with me every day fighting for Michigan in the U.S. Senate.”
Republican John James, a businessman from Farmington Hills, is running against Peters. The race is drawing national attention as Peters is one of two Democratic senators up for re-election in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed James in July. In 2018, James lost to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow , D-Lansing, by a smaller-than-expected margin of 6.5 percentage points.
Other labor groups endorsing Peters, according to Monday's announcement, included the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, the Michigan Nurses Association, the American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan AFL-CIO.
The Detroit Regional Chamber on Monday endorsed Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in his re-election effort against Republican businessman John James, praising the first-term incumbent for his bipartisan efforts in Congress.
The development occurred two months after the Michigan and U.S. chambers of commerce backed James, a Farmington Hills Iraq War veteran who runs an auto logistics firm in Detroit. It also happened on the same day the Grand Rapids chamber backed James.
The Detroit chamber's endorsement came after both contenders appeared and took questions last week on a variety of issues at a online digital town hall.
Michigan Democrats are pressuring Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James to state whether a vacancy on the Supreme Court should be filled before the Nov. 3 election.
James issued a statement Monday urging his opponent, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, to “fairly and honestly” evaluate the candidate “whenever a nominee is put forward.” The statement did not address whether the Senate should confirm a nominee before the election, however, and James' campaign declined to clarify his position further when asked by MLive.
Peters’ campaign and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who James unsuccessfully challenged in 2018, said James is hiding his position from voters. The Michigan Democratic Party held a press call Thursday pushing James to take a public stance on the issue.
“If James wants to be an independent voice for Michigan, then he should prove it,” said MDP Chair Lavora Barnes. “Now’s the time when James could break from his party and let Michigander’s voices be heard. We deserve the truth, there is too much at stake in this election and voters need to know if James stands with Michigan, or with (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell.”
The GOP wants to get rid of Peters because if Democrats win the U.S. Senate, Peters is going to have a big promotion:
The U.S. Senate is still very much a body built on seniority and, if Peters were to be reelected and Democrats take control of the chamber, he will likely become chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
As such, he will have a large role in responding to issues such as family separations at the southern border — an issue for which the Trump administration caught sharp criticism several years ago — and preparations for outbreaks of viruses and other threats, an important role given the current conditions. He also would continue to play a role, as he already has, in responding to questions of cybersecurity and the operations of the U.S. Postal Service, which has been under fire for changes that critics, such as Peters, say have slowed the mail ahead of an election where many voters will be sending in ballots and at a time when residents, asked not to go out as much because of the virus, count on mail delivery.
If reelected, Peters would also move up the ladder on the powerful Armed Services Committee, which is often a path toward getting more defense money targeted for your state.
James would enter the chamber as the bottom of the seniority ladder, but, if Republicans remained in control in the Senate, there is every reason to believe he would be marked for advancement given his visibility as a Fox News commentator and the first Black U.S. senator from the Upper Midwest since Barack Obama.
First-term Democratic Sen. Gary Peters said Thursday that his campaign raised more than $14 million in the previous three months, again setting a state record for a Democratic Senate candidate and easily eclipsing his $5.2 million haul in the second quarter. Polling has shown Peters to be slightly ahead of or about even with Republican challenger John James in the presidential battleground state.
The third-quarter numbers for James, who had outraised Peters for a year, were not immediately released by the James campaign. It did say it reached a milestone by donating more than $1 million in campaign funds as part of his pledge to give a nickel of every dollar raised to charity.
The Peters campaign said its fundraising was fueled by $8 million in small-dollar online donations.
Like everywhere around the country, the coronavirus is also having an impact on the election that’s hurting Trump’s chances:
Now nearly two years into her term as governor, Ms. Whitmer has earned high marks from a wide range of voters for her handling of the pandemic. Her approval rating is particularly strong among women, independent voters and those over 65.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly picked public fights with Ms. Whitmer this year, voicing his support for right-wing protests against her coronavirus restrictions. But those restrictions were popular, and although the demonstrators at the State Capitol drew widespread news coverage, polls have shown the majority of Michigan voters — including many in small towns and suburbs — have not been in a hurry to reopen.
“The issue that matters in Michigan is the virus,” Mr. Czuba said, noting that the state’s populous southeast was hit hard in the spring. “That is what’s registering, in a way that the economy used to register.”
He said that when Mr. Trump had attacked Ms. Whitmer, it alienated female voters in particular — more than two-thirds of whom approved of her handling of the virus in this month’s WDIV/Detroit News poll.
“The interaction Governor Whitmer had with the president where he said, don’t talk to ‘that woman in Michigan’ — I think that really galvanized voters,” Mr. Czuba said. “I think it really galvanized female voters.”
As in many states, Michigan’s voting process has been filled with legal squabbles. But the state mostly got one big question out of the way in 2018, when voters approved a referendum allowing anyone registered to vote to cast an absentee ballot. Jocelyn Benson, the secretary of state, has so far beaten back a Republican challenge over her decision to send mail ballot applications to all registered voters during the 2020 primaries, and her office sent out a postcard in August encouraging all voters to go online to request absentee ballots for the general election. In polls, well over half of Democrats have said they plan to vote absentee.
As Democrats seek control of the Michigan House, Republicans are countering by trying to win back two suburban Wayne County seats they lost in 2018.
Republicans have a 58-52 majority in the House, but the Democrats would only need to win a net of four GOP seats on Nov. 3 to take control. While the Democrats are trying to play offense in neighboring Oakland County, the Republicans are focusing on western Wayne County.
In the 20th District, Republican political newcomer John Lacny, a Marine veteran and retired supply chain manager, is taking on first term State Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, in a district that includes Northville, Plymouth and Northville townships as well as a portion of Canton Township.
In the 19th District, Livonia school teacher and Republican Martha Ptashnik is challenging State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia.
Koleszar and Pohutsky each narrowly won in 2018 when Democrats swept the statewide elected offices. Koleszar beat Republican State Rep. Jeff Noble of Plymouth 51%-49% while Pohutsky beat Republican Brian Meakin 50.2%-49.8% or by 224 votes after State Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, unsuccessfully sought a Senate seat.
Which also leads to the Michigan State Supreme Court being up for grabs. Not only is Justice Bridget Mary McCormack (D. MI) up for re-election but we also have a strong candidate in Elizabeth Welch (D. MI):
A veteran litigator, longtime school board trustee and environmental activist from East Grand Rapids, Welch is an employment law specialist whose expertise would be especially valuable to a court that is certain to encounter controversies arising from the pandemic and its attendant challenges for employers and workers.
Welch's pro bono advocacy includes work on behalf of organizations that strive to protect voter rights, and she promises to be a vigilant watchdog against efforts to suppress the vote. She has also served as president of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, one of the state's most influential environmental groups.
Assuming McCormack is re-elected, Welch's election would make her the court's fourth female justice, ending a long tradition of male majorities. More importantly, it would abet and extend the court's continuing recovery from an unhappy chapter of partisan rancor.
Democrats aren’t making any mistakes from 2016 in Michigan. Joe Biden just went back to Michigan today:
Joe Biden wished President Trump and the first lady a speedy recovery from COVID-19 on Friday, speaking from the campaign trail in Michigan after his own campaign announced that Biden tested negative for the coronavirus.
“I'd like to just start by acknowledging which I'm sure all of you do as well, sending my prayers for the health and safety of the first lady and the president, president of the United States after they tested positive for COVID 19. My wife Jill and I pray that they'll make a quick and full recovery,” he said. “This is not a matter of politics. It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It's not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible.”
Biden also told supporters in Michigan that he was late because he was waiting for the results of his COVID-19 testing.
“I got two COVID tests this morning, one in Delaware and one by the former White House doc who came up and everything's clear,” he said. “We wanted to make sure everything was clear before I came.”
The state Democratic Party and Mr. Biden have taken a particular interest in the city. His campaign has delivered more than two million texts or calls to city voters and is advertising heavily there. Statewide, it has budgeted nearly $60 million for ads, with $32.5 million of that for Detroit, compared with a total of roughly $31 million by the Trump campaign, which has reserved $9.7 million of that for the city, according to data from Advertising Analytics.
“From my bird’s nest, I’m looking at Democrats with all hands on deck — the community-based organizations, the faith-based groups, they’re all doing a lot of different type of campaigning,” said Mario Morrow, a political consultant based in Detroit who has worked for both Democrats and Republicans. “And Biden has exceeded all expectations with his media buys.”In addition, both Mr. Biden and his vice-presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris, have been to Detroit this campaign season, with visits last month to small businesses in the city’s neighborhoods. That meant something to voters like Warner Webster, 85, a retired autoworker who stood on Seven Mile Road, waiting to catch a glimpse of Ms. Harris as she left a barbershop in the city’s northwest.
“I’ve never seen a candidate here,” he said. “From what I understand, she’s going to be pretty good. She’s going to get my vote.”
Mayor Mike Duggan also said he appreciated the attention the Biden campaign had paid to Detroit, saying that Mr. Biden had called the night before visiting. “I thought to myself, not once during the 2016 campaign did I ever get a call from Hillary Clinton, asking: ‘What should I be doing? Where should I be going?’” he said.
Mr. Biden was scheduled to make another trip on Friday to Michigan, where he will stop in Grand Rapids to visit a voter mobilization center and discuss how to rebuild the economy.
After months of hosting virtual town hall events, Bernie Sanders will resume in-person events in battleground states, including Michigan, to garner support for former Vice President Joe Biden in his bid for the presidency.
Sanders, who ended his campaign in April, has since endorsed the 77-year-old Democratic Party candidate and teamed up to form a joint policy “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force,” which aims to bridge the divide between moderate and progressive Democratic policies.
According to the Associated Press, Sanders' spokesman Mike Casca says the Vermont senator will host socially distanced outdoor rallies, including a drive-in rally in one of Michigan's — and the country's — most shockingly influential suburbs, Macomb County, which is considered to be a bellwether for national politics.
In 2016, 54% of Macomb County voted for Trump, with 42% in support of Hillary Clinton. Statewide, however, Trump won by just 13,107 votes. Previously, the mostly white county favored democratic candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and in 2012. In 1984, the county switched from voting for John F. Kennedy in the previous election to supporting Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Online voter registration deadline is October 19th but Michigan also has same day registration on November 3rd, election day. Click here to register to vote online.
Let’s keep up the momentum to flip Michigan Blue, especially the Michigan State Supreme Court. Click below to donate and get involved with Biden, Peters, Welch and their fellow Michigan Democrats campaigns: