HEALTH CARE / COMMENTARY
This article first appeared in the Daily Signal, a publication of the Heritage Foundation.
In two cases that were fast-tracked to the Michigan Supreme Court, justices ruled against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s overuse of executive orders on COVID-19 restrictions.
During the past several months, COVID-19 policies have stretched the limitations in the constitutions of Michigan and other states, as well as those of the U.S. Constitution.
In two cases that were fast-tracked to the state’s highest court, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer and several other governors across the country have used executive orders extensively, instead of working with their legislatures or county health departments on solutions.
That distorts the separation of powers in our constitutions, both state and federal. The orders have devastated innumerable businesses by keeping them closed longer than necessary.
Here in Michigan, Whitmer, a Democrat, has issued 192 executive orders, many of which were struck down recently by the state Supreme Court.
The governor got spanked unanimously by the court for flouting a 1976 law, the Emergency Management Act. She extended the state of emergency without the Legislature’s permission. Lawmakers must renew their consent every 28 days. They did that once, through April 30. Whitmer has been in violation of the law ever since.
The court’s unanimous ruling was not widely reported. It went unmentioned by the governor as she criticized the “narrow majority of Republican justices” in a second ruling, which, by a 4-3 decision, struck down as unconstitutional a 1945 law that gave governors expansive authority without a time limit.
A recent Heritage Foundation analysis of the ruling described some of the orders the governor made under the emergency management laws.
The court ruled that Whitmer unlawfully used her power to “reorder social life and to limit, if not altogether displace, the livelihoods of residents across the state and throughout wide-ranging industries.”
Instead of being chastened by the judicial branch or embarrassed by her unconstitutional actions since May 1, Whitmer doubled down:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution.”
Then she vowed to accomplish her purposes by other means. Some existing regulations by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services could be legally expanded. County health departments have also stepped in with mask-wearing and other regulations.
Those are appropriate and lawful means, unlike the governor’s use of a perpetual state of emergency to shutter businesses without the Legislature’s approval.
The judiciary’s job, beyond ruling on civil or criminal cases, is to rein in rogue legislatures and other lawbreakers.
Despite the COVID-19 virus making collecting signatures more difficult, Unlock Michigan, a coalition of residents concerned about Whitmer’s lockdown orders, turned in 500,000 signatures on Oct. 2 for its ballot proposal to repeal the 1945 law. The Supreme Court ruling rendered the ballot proposal moot.
The spin from Democrats, echoed by many in the news media, has been that we need to maintain mask-wearing indoors and social distancing everywhere. However, most people don’t have a problem with that.
Not mentioned are the numerous orders restricting businesses. Gyms reopened Sept. 9, while other businesses remained closed. Movie theaters, bowling alleys, performance venues, and stadiums reopened on Oct. 9.
How will all this affect the Nov. 3 elections in this battleground state? Whitmer is not on the ballot for another two years, but her policies are. Conservatives are more fired up than liberals about all this, so it will be interesting to see what effect it will have.
In this major battleground state, former Gov. John Engler, a Republican, was dubbed “King John” by his critics for what they viewed as his heavy-handed leadership. Whitmer has been labeled “Queen Gretchen” and worse.
Government works best with a diversity of opinions working toward the same goal; in this case, safety from a deadly virus, but without crippling businesses, and without the collateral damage of clinical depression and even suicides. (A June survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 31% of Americans had anxiety or depression symptoms and 11% had seriously considered suicide.)
Of the coronavirus crisis, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, said it well: “Now is the time for bipartisan action to transition from government operating in fear of the virus to government managing life in the presence of the virus.”
Other states would do well to follow Shirkey’s advice.
Dale Murrish is a 36-year resident of Michigan, an engineer who has worked his entire career in the transportation industry, and a member of SAE. His opinions are his own, not those of General Motors, his employer.
First in a series about my journey back to life after brain cancer surgery in 2004 and the depression that followed.
Reprinted from January 15, 2013 Troy Patch.
Life is uncertain. We often take living for granted but no one really knows if they will wake up the next morning. Mozart said it was a great blessing to be aware of one’s mortality.
Living life by principles is better than just wandering through it. Still, the urgent and the trivial consume our time, leaving the important things undone. Stephen Covey’s Quadrant 2 activities rarely get done because we’re consumed with the tyranny of the urgent, the ringing telephone, the next political blog article to write, etc.
People have told me I should write about my experiences, so my New Year’s resolution is to get started on this story, which will take a couple of years to tell.
Stuttering Incident only a Foreshadow
In October 2003 I had a stuttering incident where I couldn’t fi-i-i-i-nish a sentence at the dinner table. An aura came over me and I said, “Wow, that was weird.” We had it checked out and the doctors thought it was a TIA (mini stroke). Turns out it was really a petit mal seizure and the bomb would hit a few months later.
December 16, 2003
Another dinner table conversation, this time interrupted by a grand mal seizure. There were more clues and a correct diagnosis after numerous tests: probable low-grade malignant brain tumor. I was scheduled for a biopsy in early January and told to go home and have a nice Christmas. We could read between the lines – it might be my last.
Long story short, the biopsy confirmed it was an oligodendroglioma, neurosurgeons at the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford Hospital removed the tumor in March, 2004, and a year of chemotherapy followed that. GM was very good to me throughout this ordeal, giving me an extended leave of absence and half-time work at a less demanding job when I returned.
List-Maker, List-Maker, Make Me a List
The tumor was in the speech area of my brain, the part involved with list-making and organizing. I worked with a speech therapist throughout the summer, staring out the dining room window working on my homework, struggling to make a list of ten things that are green: “Oh yeah, grass, bushes, trees.”
Embarrassed when tested on naming vegetables in 90 seconds, all I could think of was broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, and then my mind went blank for a very awkward 80 seconds.
The brain is kind of like a Microsoft Windows program, which has icons, drop-down menus and keyboard short cuts. With the regular paths severed by the surgery, my brain developed new pathways to get the job done that summer.
The final exam was planning and executing a backyard landscaping project. Making a list of the steps involved was the hard part: tearing out the old bushes, preparing the soil, buying the new bushes, planting them, planting new grass seed. Doing the work in the sunshine was good therapy.
The lilac bushes have long been taller than me as I mow the grass each year – a real blessing to be alive and physically able to do things like driving again.
Ameri-I-Can, not I-Can’t
Returning to work was a scary experience. I had long term memory but had difficulty with short-term memory, background noise and learning new things. Gradually these deficits faded and I’m able to contribute fully at work again. Focusing on what you have and not what’s missing is key. The last few years I’ve been hitting on all cylinders again.
As difficult as a brain tumor is, a far bigger mountain for me and my family was the depression that followed. My mood swings got worse until I was hospitalized in January, 2007. By the grace of God, I also survived that life-threatening illness and plan to tell the story to encourage others with family members suffering from mental illness.
When depressed I honestly couldn’t think of three things to be thankful for, a darker cloud than not being able to name vegetables. Life didn’t seem worth living, but I was stubborn enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other. With lots of prayers and encouragement I persevered. I’d been told by others that it was a season and things would get better, but didn’t believe it could be true for me.
Make a List of Assets and Use Them
The best advice we got was from a fellow engineer who had the same type of brain tumor five years before.He encouraged us in February, 2004 with a three- ring binder and a one-page summary. Hitit with all the tools in your arsenal: conventional medical, alternative medicine, spiritual, diet, exercise, etc.
Later I used that same method to fight the depression, leaning heavily on God again. Lately I’ve been brushing up on my German and have published word by word translations of the Loreley poem and Silent Night. Knowing and singing hymns are one of the things that sustained me during both trials. Music connects with the soul, and the theology in good hymns is embedded in the mind.
A New Bible Translation
Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I’m planning to publish the book of Matthew a chapter at a time on the Patch, with commentary to follow a week or so later. Hopefully people will contribute to a discussion on what the text says and debate my opinions on it.
Giving Back and Paying it Forward
With some foreign-born coworkers, I have also helped the new USA Melting Pot club get off the ground. This club is unique in focusing on the mingling of all ethnic groups, regardless of country of origin or how long their ancestors have been here.
We have had eight meetings so far, with Chinese, Indian, Korean, German, and Brazilian cultures and their contributions to America, with a picnic at the Troy Historic Village to learn about 1800s American history. We also cover outdoor activities like bicycling, canoeing and camping; the January topic will be cross-country and downhill skiing.
Our next meeting is Thursday, January 17, 7-9 p.m., when Mrs. Joya Shepard, Personnel Director of GM’s Orion Plant, will speak at the Troy Public Library on African-American culture, history, food, and traditions.
You can see the meeting notice and read more about our club in Weilou Gao’s post It includes a summary of the November meeting on Canada when Rick Vriesen presented and the December meeting when Consul Vicente Sanchez spoke on Mexico.
So watch for more articles about my illness and the Bible translation in the midst of articles about politics, history and travel. I’ll link back to this one so people can read the whole series, explaining more about the No Maverick Molecules title as we go.