Wisconsin’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order on Thursday, ruling that the governor, Tony Evers, overstepped his authority by extending the order through the end of May.
What We Know:
- The ruling reopens the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they please and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants. The Tavern League of Wisconsin swiftly posted the news on its Facebook page, telling members: “You can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!”
- The 4-3 decision, written by the court’s conservative justices, also chips away at Evers’ authority to slow the spread of coronavirus and will force the Democratic governor to work with the Republican legislature as the state continues to grapple with the outbreak.
- Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March and extended it in late April. Republicans asked the Supreme Court to block the extension, arguing that move required legislative approval.
- Nearly seven out of ten Wisconsin residents support the governor’s “safer at home” order, according to a Marquette University Law School poll. But Republican lawmakers in the state worried about the economic impacts of an extended shutdown.
- The GOP move against Evers mirrors actions taken by Republican-controlled legislatures in other states, most notably against the Democratic governors in the nearby “blue wall” states of Michigan and Pennsylvania. All three are critical presidential battlegrounds in November.
Speaking on the court’s decision, the chief justice, Patience Roggensack, wrote for the majority that the stay-at-home order issued by Wisconsin health secretary, Andrea Palm, amounted to an emergency rule that she did not have the power to create on her own, and also imposes criminal penalties beyond her powers.