Wisconsin Supreme Court Slaps Down Governor, Rules Mask Mandate Exceeded His Authority

Well, no, you can’t do that.

A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down Governor Tony Evers’ mask mandate, saying he exceeded his authority and violated the separation of powers by reissuing emergency orders during the pandemic.

Evers’ approach, which other governors also used, was to re-issue emergency orders, such as mandatory face coverings, as existing ones expired, effectively extending the emergency orders indefinitely with no check or limitation.

In its 4-to-3 ruling, which voids a Feb. 4 face-covering order currently in effect, the court found that Evers effectively breached a statute that limits his emergency powers to 60 days without approval of the state legislature.

Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority:

“The question in this case is not whether the governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully.  We conclude he did not.”

His most recent renewal of an emergency health order on Feb. 4 came shortly after the legislature voted to repeal his earlier order requiring face coverings in public places.

Responding to the ruling, Evers said he followed the guidance of health experts to keep residents safe, which is great, but it’s not the point.  The governor tried to skirt the spirit of the law.

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