The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-home order Wednesday, ruling that Evers had illegally extended restrictions for another month without legislative approval.
In the 4-3 ruling, judges functionally reopened the state, invalidating caps on gatherings and opening businesses deemed nonessential, such as bars. The court’s decision allowed schools to remain closed and allowed local governments the autonomy to reimpose lockdown orders on their own. According to the Washington Times, officials in blue Madison-area Dane County did just that, re-implementing much of the governor’s stricken-down orders for their own residents.
Evers, the Times reported, took aim at Republicans for blocking the stay-home order in a conference call Wednesday night.
“Today, Republican legislators convinced four members of the state Supreme Court to throw the state into chaos,” Evers said, according to the Times. “They have provided no plan. There’s no question among anybody that people are going to get sick. Republicans own that chaos.”
According to the New York Times’ coronavirus tracker, Wisconsin’s positivity rate since Halloween has climbed nearly 50 percent, with 8,256 new cases reported Wednesday alone, the highest single-day total since March.
Evers first signed a so-called safer-at-home order in March, closing schools and businesses deemed nonessential. While the restrictions were set to expire on April 24, Evers-appointed Health Secretary Andrea Palm extended them to May 26.
Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, who wrote the majority opinion this week, argued that Palm lacked the authority to make such a decision.
“Rule-making exists precisely to ensure that kind of controlling, subjective judgment asserted by one unelected official, Palm, is not imposed in Wisconsin,” Roggensack ruled.
The Washington Times reported that Evers plans no appeal for the decision. Instead, he will draft a new emergency order that Republicans could still block.
“In the meantime,” Evers said, “we’re going to have 72 counties doing their own thing.”
As of this writing, more than 10.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 250,000 people, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.