The Center Square) – The Michigan Court of Appeals approved the Board of State Canvasser’s approval of six petitions calling for a recall of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist over handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitions allege Whitmer exceeded her authority in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, which included extending a promised “15-day pause” of indoor dining to 75 days, as well as other wide-ranging economic restrictions.
Petitioner Chad Baase’s recall alleges Whitmer violated the separations of powers clause in the Constitution when the Michigan Supreme Court on Oct. 2. tossed many of her orders, yet she continued issuing orders through the state health department. He contends Michigan’s leaders haven’t been held accountable.
Gretchen 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 told The Center Square in an email.
Whitmer and Gilchrist had argued that the challenged petitions did 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 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 of Appeals 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 campaign spokesperson Mark Fisk told Mlive they will appeal.
“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. This is part of a massive and coordinated attack by Republicans trying to make the Governor fail and our campaign will strenuously oppose these efforts so the Governor can keep saving lives, reopening our economy and creating jobs,” Fisk said.
Recall laws changed in 2012 complicate recalling politicians.
Groups seeking to place a governor recall petition on the ballot must collect signatures equal to more than 25% of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election — nearly 1.1 million signatures in just 60 days after collecting the first signature.
Recall petitioner Chad Baase told The Center Square via email the way he understands election law, all recall petitions are ineligible to be circulated under a rule in which petition recalls are only valid for 180 days after whichever is later: “Clarity/factuality approval by the Commission [or] Clarity/factuality approval by the Circuit Court (if Commission decision is appealed), or 40 days after the date of appeal.”
The Board of State Canvassers approved the petitions on June 8, 2020, so 180 days after that would be Dec. 5, 2020.
The deadline to place recall petitions on the November 2021 ballots, if the petitions make it that far, appears to be July 30, 2021. The chance of the petition’s success is unclear.
A 2012 law prevents governors from being recalled during the last year of their term. Whitmer’s last year as governor, barring re-election, will be 2022.