Michigan drops lawsuit against 77-year-old barber whose business reopened in May

Karl Manke's Owosso hair business reopened on May 4, despite the Michigan Governor's orders to remain locked down.

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Demonstrators hold a rally in front of the Michigan state capital building to protest the governor's stay-at-home order.
Demonstrators hold a rally in front of the Michigan state capital building to protest the governor's stay-at-home order.
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Last Updated:
June 23, 2020 - 10:24am

The state of Michigan is dropping a lawsuit filed against the owner of a barbershop whose license was suspended after his business remained open during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "non-essential" shutdown.

According to a statement by the man's attorney, the Department of the Attorney General is dismissing the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services's lawsuit against Karl Manke, the 77-year-old barber. 

Manke's barber license and business license were "summarily suspended" before a judge ruled last month that the state health department did not provide sufficient evidence that Manke's shop – Karl Manke Main Street, Barber & Beauty Shop – "has the potential to spread COVID-19 around the state."

The shop was reopened on May 4, despite Whitmer's continued "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order. On May 20, Manke joined other barbers and hairstylists to cut hair for free at a protest held at the state Capitol.

"Listen, I've been in this business for 59 years. She wants to come cut my hands off, that's another story," Manke told the Associated Press, about Whitmer, a Democrat.

"I am glad the state has finally realized I am not a health threat to anyone and I have a right to continue to cut hair. The courts have consistently upheld my constitutional rights affirming that the governor's attempts to shut me down were out of line," reads a statement issued by Manke's attorney. 

Manke's license was reinstated last week, as were the ability of all barbershops, salons, tattoo parlors, and massage parlors to operate statewide. 

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