Evers' order struck down
The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order Wednesday on a 4-3 vote, which saw one defection from the conservative majority and leaves the state without any discernable plan.
The court ruled Evers’ administration went beyond its authority when it extended its stay-at-home order in March without consulting the legislature. Republican lawmakers filed the suit directly with the Supreme Court, asking the order remain in place for six days to give the legislature time to work with the administration to create a new plan.
The court refused the request, saying lawmakers have had plenty of time to work things out. Republican legislators have yet to offer an alternative.
Evers’ order, which closed schools and all non-essential businesses, was extended to May 26. While it’s had a devastating effect on the state’s economy, Evers and health officials have said it is necessary to slow the spread of the COVID-19 basis.
The majority of the court rejected the Evers’ administration argument that the executive branch has broad authority under state law to authorize emergency measures in a health crisis.
Results of a May 12 Marquette University Law School poll shows almost 70% of Wisconsin residents support Evers’ safer-at-home order, which down from 86% in March.
In a press release, Evers said the ruling that puts the health and safety of Wisconsinites across the state at risk and would require the Department of Health Services (DHS) to go through the rulemaking process to be able to respond to an epidemic.
“Up until now, Wisconsin was in a pretty good place in our battle against COVID-19,” he said “We had reached almost all our gating criteria. We had opened up 14,000 small businesses across the state, putting 90,000 folks back to work, and that was because of the good work of Wisconsinites across our state who banded together, stayed home, and stayed safe. Despite that good work, Republican legislators have convinced 4 justices to throw our state into chaos.”
He urged Wisconsin residents to continue staying at home, adding his top priority has been and will remain protecting their health and safety.
“After months of unproductive posturing, I hope the folks in the Legislature are ready to do the same.”
In his own press release, Sen. Patrick Testin of Stevens Point, whose district includes Sparta and Tomah, said the court’s decision blocks non-elected officials from acting unilaterally.
“This case makes sure that all voices are at the table to create a clear way forward for our communities,” said Testin. “The one-size fits all approach initially adopted by the administration hasn’t served the people of Central and Western Wisconsin. There is no doubt that this virus is a health risk; but we can’t ignore the suffering that an indefinite shutdown has been inflecting on rural communities. With a new approach, we can save lives and livelihoods.”
He said survey results indicate 35% of Wisconsin businesses could close permanently if the shutdown persists into late June or early July.
While Monroe County Health Officer Sharon Nelson couldn’t be reached before press time, her department released a statement urging county residents to continue to take the necessary steps to continue to protect the health and safety of themselves, their families and thecommunity.
That includes staying at home as much as possible, adhering to social distancing, wearing face masks and practicing good hygiene.
Health officials also remind businesses they are responsible for taking steps to protect the health of their employees and prevent transmission in their facilities. The Monroe County Health Department will continue to follow up on positive cases of COVID-19 and conduct contact tracing for contacts of positive cases.