Posted at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The Brillion News
MADISON - The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled on Wednesday, March 31, that Governor Tony Evers, in issuing a string of emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, acted in good faith.
However, the state's high court ruled that the governor's orders - and those of the Department of Health Services - were illegal.
"The question in this case is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not," said the opinion, written by Justice Brian Hagedorn. "[We] conclude that the state of emergency proclaimed in Executive Order #105 exceeded the Governor's powers and is therefore unlawful."
Evers issued a statement soon after opinion was made public. His response did not comment on the high court's ruling.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve worked to keep Wisconsinites healthy and safe, and I’ve trusted the science and public health experts to guide our decision making," Evers said. "Our fight against COVID-19 isn’t over—while we work to get folks vaccinated as quickly as we can, we know wearing a mask saves lives, and we still need Wisconsinites to mask up so we can beat this virus and bounce back from this pandemic.”
State Senator Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, praised the Supreme Court decision.
“Today’s ruling vindicates the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government and will expand freedom and opportunity for the people of Wisconsin," LeMahieu said. "As we work to fully and safely reopen our state, we trust our residents to follow CDC guidelines when appropriate, get vaccinated when ready, and always employ common sense.”
The state legislature has maintained that Evers could have come to it to extend his emergency orders legally, but chose to go it alone.
The high court's 4-3 decision validates the Republican-controlled legislature's position.
"The Governor’s repeated abuse of emergency powers and pervasive violation of state statute created a state of chaos and had to be stopped," said LeMahieu, whose district includes Hilbert and Reedsville.
The minority opinion was held by Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Frank Dallet and Jill Karofsky. In the majority were Justices Hagedorn, Patience Roggensack, Annette Ziegler, and Rebecca Grassl Bradley.
The complete 78-page decision - which includes the majority opinion, concurring opinion and the dissenting opinion - is available for the public to read or download at https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=352043