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.

A Whitmer spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. .

Republicans in the state and other Whitmer opponents have blasted her interpretation of the law. They say she overstepped her executive authority in continuing to declare a state of emergency without the consent of the legislature.

“This is a great day for the people of Michigan,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox in a statement.

“The court rightly recognized that the constitution gives the legislature a role to represent the people of this state. Governor Whitmer overexerted her powers. The legislature wants to be a willing partner in dealing with COVID-19 and Governor Whitmer should recognize their duly delegated role.”

That prompted several efforts to get people to sign petitions in order to repeal the laws cited by the governor. One initiative, Unlock Michigan, garnered more than 500,000 signatures but is under investigation by the attorney general after video evidence showed potentially illegal means of collecting signatures.

This is a developing story.

Contact Dave Boucher at dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan Supreme Court rules against Whitmer on emergency powers

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