Lawsuit Seeks End to State Mask Order
Conservative group files motion for temporary injunction. Circuit Court will hold October 5 hearing.
As the number of positive tests for COVID-19 has skyrocketed in Wisconsin, the conservative law firm that wants to stop Gov. Tony Evers from declaring a health emergency or requiring masks to curb the spread of the virus now wants the court to immediately block all of those orders, including new ones the governor issued just last week.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a motion on Monday seeking a temporary injunction finding the health emergencies that Evers declared in executive orders that took effect Aug. 1 and Sept. 22 are “invalid and void.” WILL also wants the court to overturn the mask mandate orders that accompanied each of those emergency declarations.
The hearing is scheduled to be conducted on a Zoom call. In an announcement on its website, Polk County states that access to its buildings remains limited “in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
By the time of the hearing, however, the Aug. 1 health emergency that was the subject of WILL’s original lawsuit will have already passed its 60-day expiration.
The lawsuit cited a state law that limits a state of emergency to 60 days unless the Legislature extends it. It asserted that because COVID-19 had not been eliminated after Evers’ earlier health emergency order that ended in May, the governor has no right to declare any new health emergencies related to the pandemic.
Monday’s temporary injunction motion reiterates that framing for both the Aug. 1 and Sept. 22 emergencies, characterizing them as “extending the state of emergency” from the spring “beyond the 60-day limit provided by law.”
With each of the two subsequent health emergencies, however, the governor’s office specifically cited new developments — surges in COVID-19 infections across the state after periods in which it had declined — as unique circumstances and grounds for new declarations.
To date, Republican leaders have refused to call the Legislature into session since mid-April to work on additional pandemic relief. They have also refused to meet to address a series of police reform and racial justice proposals put forward by the Legislative Black Caucus and Evers, despite the governor calling them into a special session on that topic. In the meantime, Wisconsin has drawn national attention for spiking COVID-19 rates and for the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
On Saturday, the Atlantic magazine published an article on its website pointing to signs that, as it was headlined, “Wisconsin Is on the Brink of a Major Outbreak.” Atlantic science writer Robinson Meyer wrote: “If the mask mandate is overturned in the state legislature, as Fitzgerald has repeatedly threatened, then Wisconsin’s odds of a deadly surge will worsen.”
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.
- Court Watch: Why Court Voided Evers Emergency Order - Gretchen Schuldt - Apr 5th, 2021
- Statement by Heartland Institute Director Jeré Fabick on WI Supreme Court Victory Against Gov. Tony Evers - Heartland Institute - Mar 31st, 2021
- Senator Agard: Statement on Supreme Court Decision - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Mar 31st, 2021
- Wisconsin’s Hyperpartisan Supreme Court is Endangering the Public - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Mar 31st, 2021
- Wisconsin Supreme Court: Gov. Evers’ Multiple Emergency Declarations Violate Law - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Mar 31st, 2021
- Rep. Hesselbein Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Emergency Orders - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Mar 31st, 2021
- Statement on Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Mar 31st, 2021
- Gov. Evers Releases Statement Regarding Supreme Court Decision - Gov. Tony Evers - Mar 31st, 2021
- Rep. Hintz: Statement on Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling - State Rep. Gordon Hintz - Mar 31st, 2021
- State Supreme Court Overrules Evers’ Emergency Powers - Laurel White - Mar 31st, 2021
Read more about Statewide Mask Mandate here