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Wisconsin Supreme Court docket to Hear Case Over Masks Mandate

Governor Tony Evers recently announced the state mask mandate will be extended until 2021, even though the state Supreme Court is debating whether he actually has the power to do so.

Even as Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin announced the state’s mask mandate will be extended until early 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering whether the Democrat governor is overstepping his authority with such mandates. According to Republicans in the state legislature, Evers’ mask mandate is not enforceable or legal because the “state’s public health emergency related to the pandemic expired.”

Brown wooden gavel; image by Rawpixel, via Unsplash.com.

Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court help virtual arguments “and took the case under advisement.” The court isn’t expected to issue a ruling for weeks, however. The questions the court is considering include:

  1. Did Evers break the law by issuing orders lasting longer than 60 days?
  2. If the executive orders didn’t break the law, does he have too much legislative power?

Attorney Matthew Fernholz is representing the side suing Evers. He said, “For the governor to continue citing the COVID-19 and say ‘well, it’s still here, it’s still present so I can declare a state of emergency,’ no, you can’t.” He further noted that “state law does not allow emergency powers to last indefinitely during a pandemic.” If the court agrees with his argument, the mask mandate will be invalidated.

Assistant Attorney General Hannah Jurss is representing Evers. He said, “There is nothing that should limit the governor’s ability to recognize that that new attack has occurred and issued a new state of emergency order.” He said he believes the people bringing the lawsuit “are interpreting executive order ability as a one and done approach.” He added, “Evers should be able to implement new orders as new emergency circumstances arise.” 

When commenting on the challenges to his power, Evers said he has the power to “issue multiple health emergencies because of the changing threat caused by the pandemic.”

The other side of the aisle argues Evers is “only allowed to issue one 60-day health emergency for the same pandemic.”

Despite the suit, Evers announced an extension to the mask order just yesterday and it won’t expire until early 2021. When discussing the lawsuit, he said:

“As many of you also know, our current public health emergency and our face coverings order is being challenged in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Republicans in the legislature support this effort…That’s why today I am also once again calling on Republicans to withdraw their support for this lawsuit and to publicly support our new public health emergency and face coverings order. It is time, folks. We do not get any do-overs, here. Enough games. We need you to join the cause and we need you to start today.”

Sources:

Wisconsin governor extends mask mandate into 2021

Wisconsin governor to extend public health emergency into 2021, extend mask mandate

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