Governor Whitmer Should Have Executive Powers to Enact COVID Restrictions

Arielle Jean, Columnist

We are currently ten months into a pandemic that most Americans, myself included, imagined would be over by June; there is no longer room to discredit the severity and seriousness of COVID-19. With daily cases in Michigan climbing past those in the earliest months, which were then assumed to be the peak of the pandemic, Gov. Whitmer should absolutely have the executive powers to enact COVID-19 restrictions. 

Should Gov. Whitmer use executive powers to enact COVID restrictions?

  • Yes (0%, 0 Votes)
  • No (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 0

Loading ... Loading ...

The most relevant argument against executive orders, which would allow Whitmer to limit social gatherings, business operations, in-person schooling, etc, is that these powers could potentially be abused and eventually lead to human rights violations and a corrupt system of government; where our head officials more closely resemble something of dictators rather than democratic governors. However, due to the checks and balances in place within the American government, this is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, to happen. Executive orders do not give governors the ability to make unconsulted and permanent decisions that impact their states, but instead allow them to respond to emergencies that desperately need to be addressed (these include instances such as storm response, health emergencies, civil defense, etc). Their orders are subject to legislative review and restrictions. For example, there are constitutional restrictions against governors being able to limit citizen’s freedom of speech or confiscate firearms. State legislatures have also adopted statutes that prevent the executive authority from being modified by executive orders, so a governor cannot change the powers they have themselves. Their orders can also be reformed or revoked by the said legislature if deemed necessary. If Whitmer attempted to make an unconstitutional executive order she would answer directly to the other branches of government that have the authority to veto her commands. Additionally, executive orders aren’t permanent; once a governor has declared a state of emergency they are granted executive powers that expire once the emergency has ended. 

In the middle of a pandemic that has already claimed over 260,000 American lives according to the New York Times, we do not have the luxury of time on our side. Progress can be hindered by bipartisan state legislature debates over the value of the economy over human lives, or whether or not schools should continue to operate in person. There needs to be immediate decision-making in regards to the safety of our state, and this can only be accomplished by granting Whitmer the power to make executive orders where change can be enacted quickly and effectively. In order for lives to be saved, Whitmer needs the tools and authority to construct laws reflective of the current state of our world. She should, as the elected official of Michigan, be able to take actions she believes will (and as we have previously seen to be effective) benefit our greater state. Businesses, schools, and social gatherings won’t be paused forever; simply put on hold until we have edged out of a global pandemic and no longer risk the livelihood of our communities by being together.