A barber repeatedly penalized by the state of Michigan for opening his shop is asking a court to void Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus-lockdown executive orders, which were found by the state Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.
Karl Manke, 77, of Owosso, Michigan, filed an appeal in Shiawassee County Circuit Court challenging the $9,000 in administrative fines levied against him and his barber shop.
His attorneys from the Kallman Legal Group in Lansing, Michigan, explained he was fined $1,500 twice — once against him personally and once against his barber shop — for the same alleged minor violations of the barber code, including having a comb in his pocket.
He was also fined $3,000 twice for his participation in Operation Haircut, the protest of Whitmer’s executive orders at the state Capitol Building last May.
“It is unclear how the state believes his barber shop building participated in the protest,” Kallman noted.
The administrative licensing action is the last remaining case against Manke, who prevailed in every prior action brought against him by the state.
Manke now is asking that Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel dismiss the remaining administrative licensing action and all fines, contending the EOs were unlawful after April 30, 2020, as they were found to be unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court.
“The entire investigation and administrative action were premised on Mr. Manke’s alleged violations of the illegal EOs,” the legal group said.
“I am happy that we are finally in a court that can rule on, and uphold, my constitutional rights. I am not a health threat to anyone, and my barbershop has not been a source of the spread of this virus. I just want to safely earn a living and have my rights respected,” Manke said in a statement.
“The courts have consistently upheld my constitutional rights affirming that the governor’s attempts to shut me down were out of line, and I trust we will prevail in court once again.”
Attorney David A. Kallman said: “We are pleased to have another opportunity to defend Karl in court and have his constitutional rights vindicated one more time. He is not a threat to the public’s health, safety, or welfare. We trust the court will uphold the rule of law and restore the faith of Michigan citizens that our legal system still operates in a fair and just manner.”
The state is averaging more than 452 cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
“Despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s onerous lockdown policies and draconian shutdown orders, Michigan is still leading the nation in new COVID-19 cases,” a spokesman for the state GOP, Ted Goodman, told Fox News. “From the start of this pandemic, Whitmer has been more focused on the political science rather than the actual science, which is why Michigan is seeing an increase, compared to most of the country, where numbers are falling.”
Chris Gustafson, spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, described Whitmer as “asleep at the wheel while COVID-19 rages.”
He cited her “Andrew Cuomo-inspired nursing home policies.”
Nessel, the state’s attorney general, previously provided political cover for Whitmer when Republican lawmakers asked for an investigation of Whitmer’s nursing home actions.
Nessel said such an investigation wasn’t needed.
Republicans have criticized Whitmer for letting nursing home residents recovering from the virus return to their nursing homes or move to other care centers.
Thousands died when Cuomo did the same thing in New York.
Nessel called the request for an investigation a “policy disagreement.”
Meanwhile, Fox News reported, Michigan media have turned against the governor.
Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV-TV ran a “scathing report” about Whitmer, the report said.
“The governor has faced tough criticism over her pandemic nursing home policy early on,” WDIV anchor Devin Scillian said. “Initially, COVID-positive patients were placed in the same facilities as COVID-negative patients. The governor ended that practice after the first six months of the pandemic.”
Anchor Kimberly Gill noted that the increased scrutiny is accompanied by “the prospect of lawsuits and other legal action.”
The report said more than 5,500 of the state’s COVID deaths, about one-third, came in the state’s nursing homes.
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