Michigan judge rules against COVID restrictions on indoor dining

"Tyrants will tyrant," the restaurant joked online after the ruling was released.

Updated: January 16, 2022 - 9:32pm

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A judge in the 46th Circuit Court of Otsego County ruled that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) restrictions on indoor dining were unconstitutional. 

Judge Colin Hunter wrote in a decision Thursday that the emergency "Gathering and Face Masks Order" issued by then-MDHHS Director Robert Gordon in November 2020 was "clearly an unconstitutional delegation of power from the Legislative to the Executive Branch." 

Iron Pig Smokehouse never complied with the November 2020 COVID order, and always allowed indoor dining, for which the restaurant was issued a citation and a $5,000 fine on Dec. 1, 2020. The restaurant's owners, Moore Murphy Hospitality, challenged the citation.

The MDHHS has issued and rescinded the "Gatherings and Face Mask Order" several times since. 

Judge Hunter wrote that "this Court must invoke its judicial review authority as a co-equal branch of government to undo that improper delegation" of authority from the legislative branch to the executive branch. He concluded that the order "is hereby severed from Michigan's Public Health Code."

The Iron Pig Smokehouse celebrated their win on Facebook. "Sucks to suck. The law was flawed, get over it. Lobby your elected representatives to change it if you don’t like it. Good luck!!" the restaurant posted.

The MDHHS could attempt to appeal the decision to a higher court and the smokehouse even joked about the possibility. "Tyrants will tyrant. They HAVE to appeal. There’s absolutely no way they can’t let the #meanbbqman win. #riskitforbrisket," the Iron Pig wrote.

Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Michigan has had some of the most stringent COVID restrictions in the nation throughout the pandemic.