“MADISON, WIS — Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate issued by Gov. Tony Evers should be immediately ended because the governor did not have the legal authority to order it, three western Wisconsin residents argues in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The lawsuit is the first legal challenge to the mask order Evers issued as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus after cases began to spike again in mid-June. Evers issued the order on July 30 and it took effect Aug. 1. It is set to run until Sept. 28. The order requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a mask while indoors, except at home. Violators could be fined $200.
Wisconsin is one of 34 states with a statewide mask order. Several other orders, including those in neighboring Minnesota and Michigan, also face legal challenges.
Two Polk County residents and one in St. Croix County filed the Wisconsin lawsuit. They are represented by the conservative law firm the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
The lawsuit contends that the legal challenge is about Evers’ authority, not whether the state should take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 or whether there can be a mask mandate.
Evers initially declared a public health emergency in March related to the coronavirus. That expired after 60 days on May 11 after the Republican-controlled Legislature did not extend it. In July, Evers declared a second state of emergency and issued the mask mandate in conjunction with that order.
The lawsuit argues that the mask order should be struck down because Evers has no authority under state law or the Wisconsin Constitution to issue a second health emergency to address the same crisis without legislative approval. If the court determines that Evers did have power under the law to issue the order, the lawsuit argues that the underlying law giving him that power should be found unconstitutional.”