(Wisconsin) The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order. The Republican controlled state legislature had sued over the order, contending it was a constitutional overreach by the Democratic governor’s administration. Four of the court’s five conservative justices sided with Republican legislators.
In her majority opinion, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said “this case is about the assertion of power by one unelected official, [Department of Human Services Secretary-designee] Andrea Palm, and her order to all people within Wisconsin to remain in their homes, not to travel and to close all businesses that she declares are not ‘essential’ in Emergency Order 28.” Roggensack said they “concluded that Emergency Order 28 is a rule under the controlling precedent of this court…and therefore is subject to statutory emergency rulemaking procedures established by the Legislature.” One conservative judge, Justice Brian Hagedorn, joined liberal justices in dissent. He wrote that it is not the court’s job “to step in and referee every intractable political stalemate.”
Now, Palm and Evers will have to use the rulemaking process to manage the state’s pandemic response going forward through the legislature’s Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules. It is unclear what immediate impact this ruling will have. The state is already on track to reopen under Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan, and Safer at Home expires in less than two weeks, on May 26th.