Owosso barber Karl Manke

Owosso barber Karl Manke cuts hair at 'Operation Haircut' on May 20. 

(The Center Square) – The 77-year-old Owosso barber who flouted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown orders by continuing to cut hair in his barbershop during the COVID-19 pandemic filed an appeal of $9,000 of administrative fines.

The Michigan Board of Barber Examiners fined Karl Manke $3,000 for violating state sanitation and equipment regulations and another $6,000 for giving haircuts during the Operation Haircut protests on the steps of the Lansing Capitol in May 2020.

Six other haircutters who participated in Operation Haircut had their criminal charges dropped. Manke has prevailed on all other charges except for the administrative fees. 

Manke called on Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel to dismiss the remaining administrative licensing action and all fines, reasoning that the Michigan Supreme Court declared all of her COVID-19 executive orders already in place or issued after April 30, 2020, unconstitutional.

In the appeal, Manke argued he was fined $6,000 for exercising his First Amendment right.

“I am happy that we are finally in a court that can rule on, and uphold, my constitutional rights. I am not a health threat to anyone, and my barbershop has not been a source of the spread of this virus. I just want to safely earn a living and have my rights respected,” Manke said in a statement. “The Courts have consistently upheld my constitutional rights affirming that the Governor’s attempts to shut me down were out of line, and I trust we will prevail in court once again.”

Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart will have the opportunity to rule on the argument.

Manke’s attorney, David A. Kallman, said he looked forward to vacating Manke's fines. 

 “We are pleased to have another opportunity to defend Karl in court and have his constitutional rights vindicated one more time,” Kallman said in a statement. “He is not a threat to the public’s health, safety, or welfare. We trust the court will uphold the rule of law and restore the faith of Michigan citizens that our legal system still operates in a fair and just manner.”

Staff Reporter

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. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.