Law & the Courts

Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Extension of State’s Stay at Home Order

Tony Evers speaks at an election eve rally in Madison, Wis., November 5, 2018. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against the state’s extension of its stay at home order, which was put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In a win for the Republican majority in the state legislature, the court ruled in a 4-to-3 decision that Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ stay at home order is “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.”

“In the case of a pandemic, which lasts month after month, the Governor cannot rely on emergency powers indefinitely,” the justices wrote.

Before Wisconsin’s initial stay at home order expired on April 24, Evers extended the emergency order to last through May 26 over the objections of Republican state lawmakers.

Republican leaders in the legislature filed a lawsuit last month against state health officials, saying that if the stay at home order is extended, “many Wisconsinites will have lost their jobs, and many companies will have gone under,” leaving the state “in shambles.”

The GOP lawmakers also argued that Evers’ administration must consult with the legislature on such emergency orders and “failed to provide any reasoned basis for discriminating between ‘essential’ and ‘nonessential’ businesses.”

Evers slammed the court’s decision later Wednesday, saying the ruling “puts our state into chaos.”

“Today, thanks to the Republican legislators who convinced four Supreme Court justices to not look at the law but look at their political careers I guess, it’s a bad day for Wisconsin,” Evers said.

In her dissent, Justice Rebecca Dallet said the decision “will undoubtedly go down as one of the most blatant examples of judicial activism in this court’s history. And it will be Wisconsinites who pay the price.”

As of Friday morning, the U.S. has seen more than 1.3 million cases of the virus, and more than 84,100 people have died.

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