A St. Croix County judge has ruled against a conservative law firm who tried to challenge Governor Evers’ powers to issue emergency orders.
Judge Michael Waterman has denied a request to halt Governor Evers’ public health emergency order.
The Wisconsin Institute for law and Liberty, backed up by legislative Republicans, said that Governor Evers did not have the power to issue more than one 60 day order in a row for the same crisis. Attorneys for the Governor’s office said new orders can be issued if the public health emergency is still ongoing.
Judge Waterman agreed with the Governor’s office, and said that the 60 day time limit was a sufficient check, because the Governor has to explain in each order why the state of emergency still exists. He says that the legislature can end the state of emergency at any time, but so far, it has declined to do so.
Judge Waterman’s ruling has an effect of keeping both the mask mandate and the newly issued occupancy mandate in effect.
Governor Evers is calling the move a victory for the people of Wisconsin. “As the number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin reached 150,000 yesterday, we will continue doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus. We ask Wisconsinites to please stay home as much as possible, limit travel and going to public gatherings, and wear a mask whenever out and about.”
Attorney General Josh Kaul says the ruling was the right move. “Wisconsin currently faces one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation, and the mask requirement is a critical protection against the ongoing danger that the coronavirus poses to Wisconsinites’ health. I encourage legislative Republicans to stop supporting this attack on the mask requirement and instead to work with Governor Evers to adopt statewide policies that will allow us to more effectively to fight the virus and keep Wisconsinites safe.”
A number of legislative Republicans have stated that if the lawsuit against the Governor failed, that they would move to take action in the Legislature. So far today, no announcements on public hearings or votes in the full legislature have been scheduled. The Legislature’s joint rules committee is set to take a vote today on the order, but they cannot change the ruling themselves without action from the full legislature or a court order.