Michigan Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Defiant Barber Had Right To Work Despite Governor’s Orders

In a ruling that could have future ramifications in the event a second wave of coronavirus strikes, a 77-year-old Michigan barber has won a legal battle against Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who forced him to shutter his business.

Barber Karl Manke defied shutdown orders from Whitmer and reopened his shop despite state orders prohibiting retail reopenings. Whitmer, who has drawn heavy criticism for her refusal to bend to demands on reopening businesses, subsequently pulled Manke’s license, heavily fined him, and denounced his activity.

But the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that he has the right to work.

“It is incumbent on the courts to ensure decisions are made according to the rule of law, not hysteria,” Justice David F. Viviano wrote Friday, MLive.com reported. The court’s 7-0 decision vacated a lower court order that upheld the state’s attempt to close the Owosso, Michigan shop.

Manke defied state shutdown orders, opening on May 4 despite state orders that salons were not essential businesses.

The ruling is largely symbolic, as the state’s barbershops are set to reopen June 15.

Manke’s case argued that he has a right to work. The ruling returns the case to an appeals court for a full hearing this coming Thursday. There was no immediate information on the state of Manke’s license or his fines.

Other businesses in the United States have opened in defiance of state orders barring activities in gyms, hair salons, retail and restaurants. State and law officials have cracked down on some, but not all.