Wisconsin Supreme Court: Mask Mandate Doesn't Fly

It strikes down Gov. Tony Evers' statewide mask mandate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2021 2:24 PM CDT
Wisconsin Governor Dealt Another COVID Legal Blow
This July 30, 2020, image taken from video by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in Madison, Wis.   (Wisconsin Department of Health Services via the AP, File)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' statewide mask mandate on Wednesday, stripping the governor of one of his last remaining tools to curb the spread of the coronavirus in his state. The conservative-leaning court ruled 4-3 that Evers violated state law by unilaterally issuing multiple emergency orders to extend the mandate for months. It found that Evers needed legislative approval to issue more orders after the expiration of the initial 60-day mandate he issued in August. "The question in this case is not whether the governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not," Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority. The decision marks another legal defeat for Evers, reports the AP.

The state Supreme Court in May struck down his stay-at-home order, finding that his health secretary lacked the authority to issue such an order. A state appeals court blocked Evers' attempts to limit capacity in bars, restaurants, and other indoor places in October. Wednesday's decision comes as COVID-19 cases have been rising in the state. The seven-day daily average has jumped from fewer than 400 cases in mid-March to 501 as of Tuesday. State Department of Health Services Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the state is seeing "warning signs" that another surge in infections is about to begin. However, local mask mandates remain in place. The city of Milwaukee and Dane County, which is home to the state capital of Madison, both have issued such mandates. (The AP has much more here, including reaction from GOP lawmakers.)

(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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