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Conservative groups sue governor, claiming she's violating their right to political gatherings

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

Two conservative groups, One Nation and Election Integrity Fund, filed suit in federal court, claiming that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Orders violate their rights. Whitmer's orders limit the number of people who can gather in an attempt to avoid spreading the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Her Executive Orders actually make it illegal to engage in what we would call retail politicking, holding rallies, holding candidate forums, getting people together to share a message,” said Phill Kline, Director of the Amistad Project at the Thomas More Society which represents the groups.

Kline says his clients don’t deny the pandemic is serious. But, he says the Governor presumes that citizens will not act responsibly unless she threatens them with arrest and jail time.

“Our right to gather politically in an election year is vitally important. And her orders have made it illegal for several months when Michiganders begin to vote in the next few weeks,” Kline said.

Kline says the lawsuit is necessary because Whitmer does not have the right to limit political speech.

In an email responding to a request for comment, the Governor’s office stated, “It’s our practice not to comment on pending litigation.”

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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