Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty
Press Release

WILL Sues Governor Evers Over Second COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

Lawsuit filed in Polk County challenges Governor Evers’s power grab.

By - Aug 25th, 2020 10:15 am

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of three Wisconsin residents and taxpayers, filed a lawsuit in Polk County Circuit Court against Governor Tony Evers for violating state law by declaring a second public health emergency on July 30. State law forbids a governor from unilaterally extending a public health emergency beyond 60 days or skirting the law by declaring multiple 60-day emergencies for the same crisis.

The Quote: WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said, “This lawsuit is not about whether masks are good or bad, or whether Wisconsin ought to do more, or less, to address COVID-19. It isn’t even about whether the state should have a mask mandate. This lawsuit is about our system of government and the rule of law. Governor Evers cannot seize these time-limited emergency powers more than once without legislative approval.”

The Lawsuit: On May 12, 2020, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’s 60-day public health emergency, declared in relation to the sudden arrival of COVID-19, ended. The legislature had the option to extend the emergency and the expanded executive powers that accompany a state of emergency but declined to take any action.

The end of the emergency heralded the return of our regular constitutional order. The legislature has the responsibility of crafting and passing legislation and the executive branch has the option to sign or veto legislation. Any further statewide responses to COVID-19 ought to have proceeded through this regular process.

But Governor Evers declared a second public health emergency, Executive Order #82, on July 30, seizing emergency powers for a second 60-day period to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Accompanying the new emergency declaration is a mask mandate applying to all 72 counties.

WILL’s lawsuit is very simple. Governor Evers cannot seize emergency powers more than once to address the same crisis. To interpret the law otherwise, would allow one-person rule by the Governor for what could be a virtually unlimited amount of time whenever the vague statutory definition of a “public health emergency” or “disaster” can be said to be present. The result would be the total breakdown of our constitutional order.

Read More:

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

More about the Statewide Mask Mandate

Read more about Statewide Mask Mandate here

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2 thoughts on “WILL Sues Governor Evers Over Second COVID-19 Emergency Declaration”

  1. Douglas Johnson says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, neither WILL, nor the Republican Party of WI, nor the WI Manufactures & Commerce have ever come up with any constructive, science based recommendations or positive ideas to work with Gov. Evers on how to address COVID-19 other than to obstruct, to litigate, to obstruct, to criticize, and to obstruct? They, like everyone else, want WI workers back to work and the economy moving forward which you would think would be the ‘common ground/goal’ everyone would be working towards. Instead when WI finally was getting COVID-19 under control the Republicans stepped forward demanding an end to procedures through the WI Supreme Court that were effective in lower the rate of transmission. Next they, the Republicans, again, immediately threatened to rescind the mask mandate but then waited until WILL stepped in, but this time to let them take them take the blame. And yet, still I hear no constructive, science based recommendations towards the common goal being put forth and so the pandemic continues and time and money are being wasted in more litigation. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  2. steenwyr says:

    WILL is playing the same cards they would under any circumstances, the problem right now is the circumstances. I get that they want answers to constitutional questions and limits on authority, but their strawman arguments such as “uncontrollable single-person rule” as if there were zero checks and balances anywhere (like elections) plus the impatience of wanting any outcome now, right now, during the pandemic is what’s most troubling. The American justice system is notoriously slow and typically requires there to have been actual, quantifiable harm (of which wearing a mask is not) to have occurred first; WILL taking advantage of a Supreme Court full of easily persuaded rubes resulting in making things worse in the short term plus setting precedent(s) that will take a long time to recover from.

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