Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI)
CNN  — 

The Justice Department said in a court statement Friday evening that it was supporting the seven businesses that had filed a lawsuit challenging Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement of interest in the case, the department called the Democratic governor’s coronavirus executive orders for her state, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, “arbitrary” and “irrational.”

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state and federal governments have a shared interest in promoting the best possible public health strategies to combat the virus to protect the people of the United States from harm,” the court statement said.

“But that interest does not justify government restrictions imposed upon its citizens without legal authority.”

The lawsuit the Justice Department is supporting claims Whitmer’s orders discriminate against the seven businesses, which include a real estate brokerage and a lawn and property maintenance company. The suit is just one of multiple challenges to Whitmer’s orders.

Whitmer has faced substantial criticism from President Donald Trump and his allies as she continues to hold steady on slowly reopening the state amid growing calls to relax social distancing measures and jump-start Michigan’s economy.

She’s faced repeated demonstrations against her closure orders, including outside her home. Last month, protesters carrying firearms descended on Michigan’s Capitol to pressure the governor to issue more relaxed measures.

Whitmer said in a statement Friday evening, “We have absolute confidence in the legal authority I have exercised to protect the people of Michigan.”

“It is crystal clear that this challenge is coming directly from the White House, which is ignoring the risk of a second wave of the virus and pushing too quickly to roll back public health guidelines,” she said. “We know that will only prolong the pandemic and make the economic pain that much worse for Michiganders. No matter what happens, I will always put the health and safety of Michiganders first.”

Earlier this month, Whitmer unveiled a six-phase plan that she touted as critical to avoiding a second wave of infections. “We have to reengage like a dial, not a switch that goes on or off, but a dial that we can turn,” she said.