Michigan Supreme Court Tosses Owosso Barber’s Order to Close

by Scott McClallen


The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled overturned a lower court’s order that directed 77-year-old Owosso barber Karl Manke to close his shop.

The top court said the Court of Appeals erred in its 2-1 decision.

Justice David Viviano said a split decision couldn’t grant peremptory relief. He said the court should have held a full briefing and oral arguments.

Viviano wrote that granting the order despite Judge Brock Swartzle’s “explicit objection (and without responding to it) is inexplicable.”

Manke has been defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order that told barbershops to close March 21 to stop the spread of COVID-19 and has attracted Michiganders from across the state to his shop.

Manke has garnered national fame for continuing to cut hair after citations and the state revoked his license, which inspired a 400-person protest at the Capitol on May 20 where barbers gave free haircuts and were cited by State Police.

The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals but it may become moot after Gov. Whitmer said barbershops statewide can open on June 15.

“It is incumbent on the courts to ensure decisions are made according to the rule of law, not hysteria,” Viviano wrote.

He continued: “Courts decide legal questions that arise in the cases that come before us according to the rule of law. One hopes that this great principle – essential to any free society, including ours – will not itself become yet another casualty of COVID-19.”

Read the Michigan Supreme Court’s three-page decision:

To date, Michigan reports 63,983 cases of coronavirus with 5,891 deaths. The state has conducted a total of 699,849 tests.

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.
Image “Barbershop Owner Kent Manke” by Anthony Sionni.




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