Is Robin Vos Scared of Voters?
Republican legislators condemn Evers' mask mandate, but won’t override it as the law allows. Why?
In July Gov. Tony Evers issued a statewide mask mandate that went into effect on August 1 and would expire on Sept. 28, requiring people five-years-old and older to wear masks in indoor or “enclosed” public places when people who don’t live with them are present.
Republicans were not happy. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) declared that local governments should decide any restrictions and Wisconsin didn’t need “a one-size-fits-all mandate.” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), said “we don’t need statewide mandates telling us what to do” and suggested local law enforcement needn’t enforce the order: “the last thing our police need to be doing right now is serving as part of the mask patrol.”
Vos said he expected legal challenges to the mask order “from citizen groups,” and the right-wing-funded lawyers of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) got the hint and soon announced they would be pursuing a lawsuit against the governor.
By late September it was clear that Wisconsin was in the midst of an outbreak, and one of the worst states in the U.S. in the number of new coronavirus cases. “Wisconsin is now experiencing unprecedented, near-exponential growth of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Evers declared, and announced a new emergency order, to extend the mask mandate for another 60 days, until November 21.
Oh, were Vos and Fitzgerald angry about the governor’s temerity. “Gov. Evers’ order is moot, illegal, invalid, and almost assuredly headed for litigation,” Fitzgerald thundered. “Evers’ disregard for the state constitution and the role of the three branches of government is mind-boggling,”
“There is already a court challenge and undoubtedly, there will be more,” Vos declared. “No one branch of government can rule outside the letter of the law and go unchecked, even during a pandemic.”
But if Evers action was so horrendous, why didn’t Vos and Fitzgerald simply have the Legislature strike down the order, as the law allowed them to do, and as Naas once again urged? We’re talking here about two of the most aggressive legislators in modern Wisconsin history, who happily passed unprecedented laws to constrain the powers of Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul as soon as the two Democrats were elected.
Even WILL President Rick Esenberg seemed to wonder about this, telling Wisconsin Eye he’d prefer that rather than pushing the courts to slap down Evers, the Legislature would act, since Republican leaders could simply void the governor’s order by passing a joint resolution.
The Marquette Law School Poll has consistently found that a sizable majority of voters approve of Evers’ handling of the coronavirus epidemic, most recently by a 57 percent to 38 percent margin. Calling for a legislative vote on overturning Evers order would simply put Republican lawmakers at risk of supporting a measure that many voters may feel endangers their lives. That’s a good way to lose elections.
The stakes are particularly high for Vos, who hopes to increase the Republican margin in the Assembly, to create a veto-proof super majority. This would mean the Republican Legislature could once again pass gerrymandered legislative seats after the next Census, and could override any veto by Gov. Evers.
In short, to assure that a majority caucus of Republicans elected by a minority of the state’s voters is maintained for another 10 years, Vos has chosen to bypass the democratic method by which the Legislature could strike down Evers mask mandate. Instead he is hoping an activist conservative majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court will operate as super legislators and do a job the law clearly specifies is up to the Legislature. Whatever it takes to frustrate the will of the people, Vos is behind it 100 percent.
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- 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, Senate Democratic Leader - 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 - 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