Take Michigan, for example, where hundreds of non-social distancing, unmasked, often gun-toting pro-coronavirus protesters swarmed the state capitol building on Thursday to demand that they be allowed to return to COVID-spreading activities.
- As rifle-wielding white guys looked down angrily from the gallery, some lawmakers donned bulletproof vests and tried to go about their business.
- Which, incidentally, was deciding whether or not to extend Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers beyond their expiration on Thursday night.
- Which, incidentally, the GOP-controlled legislature decided to not do.
- And because that wasn’t enough of a middle finger to Whitmer, Republicans also voted to move forward with filing a lawsuit challenging the governor’s emergency authority.
- And while they were at it, GOP lawmakers also passed a bunch of bills designed to replace emergency actions taken by the governor with their own iterations and to require legislative approval for emergency declarations to be obtained every 14 days (instead of the current 28).
- Whitmer has openly declared her intention to veto these and any other measures designed to usurp her emergency authority.
Last week in this space, I wrote about a couple of Virginia Republicans who’d opted to take an oblique shot at Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home executive order that closed “nonessential” businesses by representing a Gold’s Gym owner suing to overturn it.
- GOP state Sens. Ryan McDougle and Bill Stanley attempted to leverage multiple arguments in support of rejecting the order, including that
- The economic damage incurred by closing the fitness centers outweighs “the speculative threat of COVID” (leave it to a Republican to describe more than 62,000 deaths in the U.S. as a “speculative threat”)
- The governor had exceeded his authority by issuing the order and was using it as if it said “he has super powers, he can wear a cape, he can fly and stop crime” (which would be cool tbh but no)
- Gold’s Gym is not actually a gym under state law and is, in fact, a “private health club.”
In Illinois, even as the state’s number of known COVID-19 cases surged past 50,000, two Republican lawmakers have separately sued Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzger over his stay-at-home order.
- GOP state Rep. Darren Bailey actually won his suit to gain an exemption from the order.
- But, like, just for him. The judge granted a temporary relief order specific to Bailey.
- Republican Rep. John Cabello has also filed a lawsuit challenging the order, though he seeks broader relief.
Meanwhile, in nearby Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers’ suit seeking to overturn Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order is proceeding, but that’s just one crucial case before the conservative-dominated (5-2) state Supreme Court.
- Another is a controversial voter purge case that could lead to the removal of over 200,000 registered voters from the state’s rolls.
- The Wisconsin Supreme Court is slated to consider taking up a case that could automatically un-register 7% of the electorate before November.
- … never mind that three-quarters of that group cast ballots in the 2016 election.
- While Wisconsin does have Election Day voter registration, re-registering requires voters provide proof of residency, which voters don’t need to cast a ballot and those discovering that they’ve been un-registered may not have on hand.
- The ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus is also likely to undermine Election Day re-registration efforts.
- An initial hearing on the voter purge case was held back in December, which now-defeated conservative Justice Daniel Kelly recused himself from, since it affected an election with him on the ballot.
- That election? None other than the infamous April 7 state Supreme Court election, which he lost to progressive Justice-elect Jill Karofsky.
- That “justice-elect” bit is super important, because Justice Kelly’s current term doesn’t actually expire until July 31. He’s a lame-duck justice.
- But that didn’t prevent him from un-recusing himself to hear this crucial case before the door finally hits him on the way out.
- But, I know you’re thinking because you’re an erudite reader of this missive who can do basic math, doesn’t that just make a 4-2 conservative majority ruling a 5-2 conservative majority ruling?
- After Kelly recused himself from that December decision on whether or not the state Supreme Court was going to take up the case or let the lower court ruling that stops those 200,000+ voters from being purged before November’s elections stand, the court actually deadlocked 3-3, meaning the court didn’t take up the case.
- Now the court is certain to rule 4-3 to take up the case, which will likely be heard before August—with lame-duck Justice Kelly still on the bench.
- Which makes a conservative majority ruling to erase more than 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls just a few months before the 2020 election all but certain, too.
Oh, and while we’re still talking about Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s health commissioner has found at least 40 new coronavirus cases tied to voting or working the polls in April 7’s election.
And because it’s another red-legislature state with a blue governor, let’s take a peek at Louisiana, where some Republicans in the GOP-controlled legislature are considering a push to overturn Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order, which he just extended by two weeks (through May 15).
- The chatter is unnerving some other lawmakers in their own party, which makes sense, since Louisiana currently ranks fifth nationally in coronavirus cases per capita and ditching the order would put a lot of emergency funding for the state at risk.
Welp, that’s a wrap for this edition. I have it on good authority that it’s still Thursday, which means it’s still almost the weekend, if that even means anything any more.
But you know what does mean something?
Taking care of yourself, whatever form that might take.
A leisurely bath? Sure!
A glass of wine and a trashy book? Outstanding!
A phone call or video chat with someone you tolerate, or maybe even like? Great!
Cutting up all your pants and stitching the pieces into a quilt? You bet!
After all, “pandemic” sounds an awful lot like “PANTSdemic,” and you just can’t be too careful.
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