“The question in this case is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not”
March 31, 2021 | Molly Beck | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Source
“MADISON – The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from issuing any new public health emergency orders to mandate face masks without the approval of the Republican-controlled state Legislature.
In a 4-3 decision, conservative justices in the majority declared the statewide mask mandate invalid and ruled Evers exceeded his authority in issuing multiple emergency declarations over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Evers used the emergency orders to require face coverings be worn indoors statewide after lawmakers opted not to.
“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, writing for the conservative majority, said.
State law says governors may issue health emergencies for 60 days at which point the Legislature must approve an extension. Evers has argued he may issue new emergencies without their approval because the pandemic’s threat has changed, similar to emergency declarations over separate flooding events in the same river.
Hagedorn said state law governing public health emergencies “must be read to forbid the governor from proclaiming repeated states of emergency for the same enabling condition absent legislative approval.”