Wisconsin Supreme Court Shuts Down Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2019 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers during the Governor’s State of the State speech at the state Capitol, in Madison, Wis. Behind Evers is Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, left, and Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton. Evers tried for months for the Legislature to take up gun control bills to no avail. So he recently called a special session to force them to convene on the issue. (AP Photo/Andy Manis, File)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that Governor Tony Evers’s stay-at-home emergency order be struck down in a ruling on Wednesday, placing the state on a path back to normalcy. The ruling is the first of its kind, in which a state supreme court eliminates a governor’s coronavirus emergency order.

Local and municipal governments will still be able to impose a variety of restrictions. The ruling was decided 4-3, with one conservative judge joining two liberals to dissent from Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justices Rebecca Bradley, Daniel Kelly and Annette Ziegler.

Establishments previously mandating to stay closed such as bars, restaurants and concert halls will be authorized to reopen after the striking down of the emergency order. Governor Evers had already started to phase out rolling coronavirus restrictions, and the elimination of the order ensures that he’ll have to work with the Republican-controlled legislature to pass moderated forms of health regulations on social distancing and public safety.

The Justices who authorized the ruling explained their legal view that Emergency Order 28 as unenforceable in accordance with Wisconsin law.

The majority justices raised a concern that Evers’ emergency order could create a precedent for “an unelected official to create law applicable to all people during the course of COVID-19 and subject people to imprisonment when they disobeyed her order.

The court case could bear significance for possible legal challenges to other statewide stay-at-home orders being litigated over in state supreme court systems.