Charges against a Michigan barber who gained national attention by defying Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus lockdown orders and opening his shop have been dropped, a lawyer said Monday.
"Our client's thrilled and pleased that he's been vindicated," said David Kallman, an attorney for barber Karl Manke.
Manke, 77, made headlines across the United States for his dauntless resistance to Michigan's strict business regulations and pandemic lockdown orders when he reopened his Owosso barber shop last May. He vowed that he would keep his shop open "til Jesus comes," arguing that the state could not take away his livelihood.
"I feel the governor is not my mother, never has been," Manke said at the time. "As a matter of fact, this administration, for the most part, I've been in business longer than they've been alive."
In response, the state attempted to prosecute Manke for violating the governor's order — issuing a cease and desist order, filing two misdemeanor charges against him, and suspending his license — leading to an outpouring of support from like-minded Americans who opposed the lockdowns.
Many drove to Manke's shop from all over Michigan to have their hair cut while state regulations ordered other barber shops and salons closed. Manke even inspired a protest at the state capitol, where fellow barbers gave free haircuts to the demonstrators. State police cited a number of barbers and stylists for their actions that day. Manke's folk hero status and entrepreneurial instincts helped him become something of a pop culture icon, selling books, T-shirts with his likeness, and coffee mugs declaring him to be "America's barber." Supporters even set up a GoFundMe for Manke, raising $88,000.
Manke's license was temporarily revoked after he reopened his shop, but the attorney general's office filed a motion to restore his license in June.
The charges filed against Manke were dropped after the Michigan Supreme Court on Oct. 2 found that Whitmer's executive orders were unconstitutional. The court said Whitmer's lockdowns were an "unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution."
"Based on that ruling, we didn't feel the charges could go forward," said prosecutor Scott Koerner.
"It is definitely a weight off my shoulders," said barber Karl Manke. "I just want to earn a living, and I am not a health threat to anyone."
Manke's attorney noted that state regulators still have a complaint against Manke's license pending and that his firm has asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to dismiss that as well.
(H/T: Washington Examiner)
This story has been updated.