Conservative law firm asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to strike down mask mandate

Evers wearing a mask

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday to take over a case challenging the statewide mask mandate. A St. Croix County judge ruled against the law firm last week when the firm brought the same challenge to circuit court.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty argued on behalf of private citizens that Gov. Tony Evers exceeded his authority in issuing multiple public health emergencies for an ongoing pandemic. It asked the state Supreme Court to take over the case and combine it with another challenge in front of the court, brought by the same person who successfully challenged the state’s Safer at Home order earlier this year.

The request comes on the same day Wisconsin saw 151 more people admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 treatment.

The judge in northwestern Wisconsin ruled against the law firm last week, saying that state law already allows the state legislature the means to end the public health emergency by passing a resolution in both chambers.

In his decision, Judge R. Michael Waterman said, “When an executive order ends after 60 days, it forces the governor, before issuing another order, to reexamine the situation and publicly identify existing, present-day facts and circumstances that constitute a public health emergency.”

Evers’ legal team, the state Department of Justice, filed a response to one lawsuit on Thursday.

“When our Legislature first codified a Governor’s emergency powers in in the 1950s, it did so to empower the Governor to protect the state during wartime,” state lawyers wrote. “And significantly, it crafted our statute to enable the Governor to respond to a particular act of war, not to offer only one response per war.”

The DOJ said the way the people who filed the lawsuit read the law would “remove an entire category of catastrophic events from the statutes—including floodwaters that swell with new rainfall, fires that pick up with a change of wind, or a new wave of a potentially lethal virus.”