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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - While business shut-downs and stay-at-home mandates are the order of the day, lawsuits against these mandates are becoming more common.
Four Michigan residents filed suit against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday, arguing her stay-at-home order violates citizens' civil liberties.
Recently extended to May 1, Whitmer's quarantine order requires that Michiganders stay home unless they are shopping for food, seeking medical care or exercising. Most businesses have been forced to close to comply with the order.
Attorney David Helm of Helm Law, PC is representing the Michigan residents in federal court. Helm told Church Militant that "Our position is simply that when the government takes some necessary action which infringes on individual constitutional rights, they must tread lightly and take the least restrictive approach as defined by the Constitution."
"I want to make it clear from the onset of this case that my clients are not saying that there is not a pandemic or that the government does not have some obligation to do something in response," he said. "My clients are further not looking to cash in on the crisis as some have alleged. They simply want to see what we consider to be overbearing restrictions put in place by the executive orders lifted."
Governor Whitmer's order, issued April 9, "is unreasonable and goes too far," he concluded.
The lawsuit lists the plaintiffs:
For all of the plaintiffs and their claims, Helm says he is invoking the 14th Amendment, which protects life, liberty and property.
"Never in the modern history of the United States — even in wartime — has such an invasive action stripping citizens of fundamental rights been taken by a government order," the lawsuit contends.
President of the Michigan Conservative Coalition (MCC) Roseanne Ponkowski told Church Militant that she celebrated the right of American citizens "to petition our government in a way that we feel best moves our grievance forward."
Ponkowski referred to Operation Gridlock, launched by the MCC, which lawfully protested the governor's order on April 15 with tens of thousands Michiganders jamming the roads surrounding the state Capitol in Lansing.
"We welcome anyone or any organization that furthers the agenda of getting Michigan safely back to work," Ponkowski explained.
"Moving the Governor off her draconian rules to a place where we can begin to allow people to safely return to work will take several different approaches," she added. "I applaud anyone who is willing to help advance that agenda."
Helm also said his law firm is bringing a claim at the state level against the governor shortly which will challenge "the mandatory quarantine of the healthy and the travel restrictions which have been held to be a fundamental constitutional right here in the state of Michigan."
Whitmer is facing more than just lawsuits from Michiganders.
In addition to Operation Gridlock, more than 262,864 Michigan residents to date have signed a petition to recall the governor at Change.org and more than 351,000 to date have joined a Facebook group called "Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine."
A group of Michigan sheriffs announced they will not enforce some of Gov. Whitmer's executive orders.
Sheriffs Mike Borkovich, Ted Schendel, Ken Falk, and Kim Cole of Michigan's 101st District released a press statement on April 15 explaining their decision to place their oath to the Constitution above Whitmer's wishes.
"We write today to inform the public for our respective counties [Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, Mason] of our opposition to some of Gov. Whitmer's executive orders. While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority," read the letter signed by each sheriff.
One observer echoing the sentiments of many citizens said that the federal and state lawsuits against Whitmer represent the ultimate test of the courts to rule impartially on the language codified in the Constitution and ask, "Will the courts rule in favor of the Constitution and a free republic or will the court side with naked authoritarianism?"
Ponkowski said, as a Catholic, the hardest part of the shut-down has been "the inability to receive Holy Communion. Not going to Mass has been particularly hard on me, as that is where I also feel closest to Our Lord."
Church Militant phoned the numbers listed at the Michigan.gov. website hoping to speak, if not to the governor, then with a representative, but was unsuccessful "due to a high volume" of calls, according to recordings.