The Michigan Court of Appeals has approved six petitions for the recall of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitions, approved first by Michigan's Board of State Canvasser, are based on arguments Whitmer exceeded her authority in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, which included extending a promised "15-day pause" of indoor dining to 75 days.
Petitioner Chad Baase’s recall is based on the argument Whitmer violated the separations of powers clause in the state Constitution by continuing to issue virus-related orders through the state health department, after the Michigan Supreme Court in October tossed many of her orders.
"Whitmer's continued actions which show an 'It's OK for me but not for thee' mentality is not the mentality of an effective leader to bring Success and Growth to Michigan," Baase said.
Whitmer and Gilchrist have argued that the challenged petitions do not "adequately describe the authorities cited as reasons for the recall."
Whitmer argued recall petition language was unclear, singling out the use of the term "bars" as denoting a public space.
The appeals court disagreed, writing: "Any person invited to sign the petition would very likely envision a reference to a conventional tavern, where people can purchase and consume alcoholic beverages."
The court rejected the governor and lieutenant governor's arguments, and affirmed six of the cases but remanded one to correct an error for an executive order date.
"We conclude that although the governor relied on the appearance of a string of nonsensical characters to support her challenge to the clarity of the petition language, the governor’s hasty conclusion about a word-processing irregularity does not arise often enough to compel reading the petition as featuring some gibberish in place of several normal characters that appear the rest of the time" the court wrote.
Whitmer reelection campaign spokesperson Mark Fisk told Mlive the court ruling will be appealed.
"We plan to appeal this disappointing decision and we fully intend to beat back these irresponsible partisan attacks against the governor in the courts, on the streets or at the ballot," he said. This is part of a massive and coordinated attack by Republicans trying to make the governor fail."
A 2012 law prevents governors from being recalled during the last year of their term. Whitmer’s last year as governor, barring reelection, will be 2022.