Grand Rapids, MI asked in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for Michigan

Q: Can an executive order from the Govenor of MI supersede my 1st Amendment rights?

Michigan is under a "stay home, stay safe" order which bans assembly of more than 10 people. Am I protected by the 1st Amendment to peacefully essemble? Does this order supersede my constitutional rights?

1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Great question! Not sure if you're asking in theory or in practice. But yes, in times of crises, orders and laws can be made that may infringe on certain constitutional rights. When doing so on fundamental rights, the government must show a compelling need and ensure that the law or order is narrowly tailored so as to protect fundamental rights to the extent possible.

In these times, at least from the science of what we know, it is absolutely critical for everyone to stay away from each other. Assembling in public - even peacefully - is not just a threat to the participants' health and safety, but also to everyone else they may come into contact with.

The 1st Amendment in particular - like all fundamental rights - is not without limitation. The government can always institute time, place, and manner restrictions. It is why you can't peacefully assemble in the middle of a street or in a public park at night.

The executive order does not supersede your constitutional rights to the extent that you can still peacefully assemble: just not more than 10 people, maintaining a 6 foot distance.

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