Wisconsin‘s Supreme Court has ruled against the Governor’s statewide mask mandate despite a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The ruling was reached on Wednesday and is a significant setback to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers‘s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The court ruled 4-3 that the Governor violated state legislation by issuing multiple emergency orders that extended the mandate for months. The court also says that legislative approval was required to give additional orders after the expiration of the initial 60-day mandate that Evers issued in August. Evers fired back, claiming that he had the authority to issue multiple health emergencies due to the pandemic’s unpredictable nature.
“The question, in this case, is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority.
This decision is just the latest in defeats for Evers. In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected his stay-at-home order, ruling that his health secretary didn’t have the power to issue the order. A state appeals court also blocked his attempts to limit bar and restaurant capacity.
The ruling seems senseless, considering that Wisconsin is experiencing a rise in cases. The seven-day daily case average has leaped from less than 400 in mid-March to 470 as of Wednesday. Julie Willems Van Dijk, the state’s Department of Health Services Secretary, says that this is a warning sign a surge in infections is coming soon.
Local mask mandates remain in place in the city of Milwaukee and Dane County, among other areas. However, a statewide mandate may have slowed the rise in cases tremendously.