Supreme Court Strikes Down Safer at Home Order

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MIchelle Phillips

WISCONSIN–In a 4-3 decision on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order, calling is “unlawful” and “unenforceable.” Conservative Judge Brian Hagedorn dissented, joining liberal justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet in voting to maintain the order.

In their findings, justices said Evers overstepped his authority when he extended the original 60 day order to May 26. 

The lawsuit was filed against state Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm as well as other health officials because they made the decision to extend the order on April 12.

The court ruling came just two days after restrictions on many businesses were lifted, allowing stores to have five people or less at any given time.

Evers issued a statement on May 13, asking residents to continue to stay at home, maintain social distance and travel only when necessary, “because folks, deadly viruses don't wait around for politicians and bureaucrats to settle their differences or promulgate rules," he said.

In a statement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, the men claimed that Evers’ order caused “immense frustration” and “denied people a voice,” calling the order, “unprecedented administrative overreach.”

The statement went on to say: "Wisconsinites deserve certainty, transparency, and a plan to end the constant stream of executive orders that are eroding both the economy and their liberty even as the state is clearly seeing a decline in Covid infections."

The state has, in fact, not seen a decline in COVID-19 infections, and numbers have risen in most parts of the state.

The men also opined that it was necessary to involve the court to “reign in this obvious abuse of power.”

Dane County will remain under a Safer at Home order according to Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who also spoke against the ruling on Wednesday.

In Wisconsin, local health departments have the authority to issue health warnings and orders, and Public Health of Madison and Dane County had vowed to keep the order in place before the ruling was made.

"Republican legislators convinced four members of the Supreme Court to throw the state into chaos. Republicans own that chaos," Evers included.

The court also struck down a request by Vos and Fitzgerald to have a six day stay designed to allow time to negotiate the Safer at Home order.

A Marquette Law School Poll, conducted May 3-7 found that 69 percent schools and most businesses should be closed and public gaterings limited. In a March poll 76 percent approved of the Safer at Home measures. Click the link for the cmplete poll findings.

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