Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns statewide stay-home order
May 14, 2020
•Land Line Staff
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday overruled a stay-at-home order put in place by Gov. Tony Evers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a 4-3 decision, the court immediately lifted all restrictions on businesses and gatherings that had previously been in place. The court ruled that – because the general order did not follow the rulemaking procedures in place for the state of Wisconsin – it is unenforceable and the criminal penalties for violating the stay-at-home order cannot be allowed. The court ruling leaves in place the governor’s orders to keep schools shut down until the fall.
The order was originally going to be in place until May 26.
Wisconsin is the first state to have its restrictions lifted by a court. However, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Gov. Evers had already begun lifting some restrictions because the spread of the virus was slowing down.
“Up to now, we were in a pretty good place in our battle against #COVID19. We had reached almost all our gating criteria. We had opened up small businesses across the state, putting folks back to work, and that was because of the good work of Wisconsinites across our state,” Evers tweeted on Wednesday after the court ruling. “From keeping our kids home from school to staying safer at home, we cannot let today’s Supreme Court ruling undo all the work we have done and all the sacrifices Wisconsinites have made over these past few months.”
Evers urged his fellow citizens to join him in continuing to stay safe and stay at home.
Up to now, we were in a pretty good place in our battle against #COVID19. We had reached almost all our gating criteria. We had opened up small businesses across the state, putting folks back to work, and that was because of the good work of Wisconsinites across our state.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) May 14, 2020
Following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling, local officials in Dane County and Milwaukee immediately announced they would be enforcing the state’s rules at the local level.
The court’s ruling said Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm exceeded her authority with her sweeping order, declaring the mandate “invalid, and therefore, unenforceable,” which allowed some restaurants and bars to resume normal operations immediately, in the absence of a local order.
Wisconsin’s first “safer at home” order went into place on March 25, at the direction of the governor. A subsequent order extending the restrictions until May 26 was issued in April. The state’s Republican-majority legislature brought a lawsuit challenging the order shortly after it was renewed.
News Anchor Terry Scruton contributed to this report.