The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ order shutting down daily life to limit the spread of coronavirus — marking the first time a statewide order of its kind has been knocked down by a court of last resort.
The state’s highest court sided with Republican lawmakers Wednesday in a decision that curbed the power of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration to act unilaterally during public health emergencies.
The 4-3 decision was written by four of the court’s conservatives — Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justices Rebecca Bradley, Daniel Kelly and Annette Ziegler.
The court’s fifth conservative, Brian Hagedorn, wrote a dissent joined by the court’s two liberals, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet.
The ruling immediately lifts all restrictions on businesses and gatherings imposed by the administration’s order but keeps in place the closure of schools until fall. It comes after Evers had already begun lifting some restrictions because the spread of the virus has slowed for now.
“Republican legislators convinced four members of the Supreme Court to throw the state into chaos,” Evers told reporters Wednesday evening. “Republicans own that chaos.”
Republicans who brought the lawsuit had asked the justices to side with them but to stay their ruling for about a week so legislators and Evers could work out a new plan to deal with the pandemic.
The justices declined to do that and had their ruling take effect immediately.