Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has posted a notice on her website advising that her stay-at-home order does not prohibit outdoor First Amendment expression as a man who was ticketed for engaging in pro-life outreach on the sidewalk outside a Detroit abortion facility filed a lawsuit to challenge the order’s application to his activity.
“Does Executive Order 2020-42 prohibit persons from engaging in outdoor activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?” reads a new page created on the Michigan.gov website last week. “No. Persons may engage in expressive activities protected by the First Amendment within the State of Michigan, but must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the person’s household.” As previously reported, Andrew Belanger, who is associated with ONElife for Life, was standing alone outside of Scotsdale Women’s Center and Family Planning on March 30 when several police cars pulled up to confront him. Miles O’Brien and Justin Phillips, who are also with the organization, soon arrived to join Belanger and noted the significant police presence. Online footage captures an officer warns, “We’re here for a violation of the stay-at-home order by the governor, okay? This isn’t essential to be out right now. … Right now, it’s a $500 fine. If you keep this up after that, we’ll take you to jail.” One of the men subsequently contends that the order allows residents to go outside and asks why they cannot do so. The officer, who advises that his supervisor is on the way, asks if the men are doing anything “essential” and threatens, “If my boss orders me to lock everybody up, that’s what […]