Michigan AG Dana Nessel Won’t Prosecute People For Breaking Whitmer’s Lockdown Orders, Leaves It Up To Local Law Enforcement

(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Sunday she will not continue to enforce Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders “through criminal prosecution” after the state Supreme Court ruled the orders unconstitutional Friday.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, the Attorney General will no longer enforce the Governor’s Executive Orders through criminal prosecution,” read a statement from Nessel’s press secretary posted to Twitter on Sunday. “However, her decision is not binding on other law enforcement agencies or state departments with independent enforcement authority.”

However, the statement also noted that Nessel’s “fervent hope” is that “people continue to abide by the measures that Governor Whitmer put in place – like wearing face masks, adhering to social distancing requirements and staying home when sick – since they’ve proven effective at saving lives.”

The court issued a split decision Friday, ruling that Whitmer’s extension of emergency declarations used to mandate lockdown restrictions were unconstitutional, according to the Detroit Free Press. (RELATED: Judge Rules Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Coronavirus Restrictions Unconstitutional)

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution,” Whitmer said in a statement Friday. “Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.”

Whitmer said the ruling “does not take effect for at least 21 days” and that her “emergency declaration and orders retain the force of law.”

Whitmer hinted that the same policies will last past the 21 days, saying “alternative sources of authority” will enforce her rulings.

Whitmer locked down the state in March, shutting down barbershops, salons and other businesses deemed non-essential, prompting protests across the state.