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Governor Tony Evers lashed out at state Republicans after the Wisconsin Supreme Court tossed out his latest attempt to issue a coronavirus stay-at-home order.
The Democrat lawmaker was reportedly furious Wednesday at the court’s decision to strike down his order to extend the state lockdowns for another month. Shuttered businesses were allowed to reopen, travel restrictions and caps on the size of gatherings were lifted, as the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Evers overstepped his authority with the order.
“Today, Republican legislators convinced four members of the state Supreme Court to throw the state into chaos,” Evers said in a conference call on Wednesday, The Washington Times reported. “They have provided no plan. There’s no question among anybody that people are going to get sick. Republicans own that chaos.”
The court’s 4-3 ruling allows the state to basically re-open, though schools may remain closed and local governments are able to set their own restrictions, which Evers criticized because of the potential confusion and health risks that may result.
The decision will “undoubtedly go down as one of the most blatant examples of judicial activism in this court’s history,” one of the court’s dissenting liberal judges, Rebecca Dallet, said, adding that “it will be Wisconsinites who pay the price.”
“A review of the tedious multi-step process required to enact an emergency rule illustrates why the Legislature authorized DHS to issue statewide orders to control contagion,” Dallet said, criticizing the delay in the process.
We must get back to the basics of fighting this virus, just like we did last spring, and it starts at home. That’s why tonight, I signed Executive Order #94, advising Wisconsinites to stay home to save lives.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) November 11, 2020
But Chief Justice Patience Roggensack argued that health secretary Andrea Palm did not have the power to impose the emergency order without consulting legislators.
“Rule-making exists precisely to ensure that kind of controlling, subjective judgement asserted by one unelected official, Palm, is not imposed in Wisconsin,” Roggensack wrote for the majority.
Palm extended a stay-at-home order issued by Evers in March which closed schools and nonessential businesses. Though it was set to lift on April 24, Palm extended it to May 26, prompting state Republicans to ask the court to block the order.
The Washington Times reported:
Evers’ administration faced an uphill battle in convincing the conservative court to keep the order in place. Three of the conservatives joined Roggensack; the remaining conservative, Brian Hagedorn, joined Dallet and fellow liberal justice Ann Walsh Bradley in dissent.
The Republican legislators had asked the court to let the rule remain in place for six days to give them time to work with Evers‘ administration on an alternative plan. The court refused to grant the stay, saying the two sides have had weeks to come up with something.
Though Evers does not have a way to appeal the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, he is moving ahead with plans to address the coronavirus pandemic in some form of emergency rule. However, the governor reportedly expressed concerns about the length of time the process will take.
“In the meantime, we’re going to have 72 counties doing their own thing,” Evers said. “I can’t believe there’s a state in the nation with this type of chaos.”
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reported 7,497 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bypassing the previous record of 7,065 set just five days before. There were also 58 more deaths related to the virus.
While Evers planned to introduce pandemic relief legislation to address the spike, he was doubtful the Republican-controlled legislature would agree with his proposals.