On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin blocked Gov. Tony Evers from making new public health emergency directives connected to mask mandates that do not have the approval of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
In a 4-3 decision, the majority of justices in the state’s supreme court, who are conservatives, has declared that mask mandates in the state are invalid. They also ruled that the governor has exceeded his authority by issuing several emergency declarations connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Evers used his emergency orders to mandate the wearing of face masks indoors in the state, even after legislators decided not to approve it.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision came a day following the lifting of the statewide mask mandate in Arkansas by Gov. Asa Hutchinson while expanding the vaccine eligibility to people 16 years old and older.
Wisconsin Rules Based on Legality
According to Wisconsin law, the governor of the state can issue health emergencies for a duration of 60 days. Beyond that, any extension needs to be approved by the state legislature.
According to Justice Brian Hagedorn, who wrote for the conservative majority, said that it is not a matter of whether Evers acted wisely, but whether he did so lawfully. With this, Hagedorn said that they concluded that he did not.
Wisconsin’s mask mandate originally would have expired on Monday. However, it had ended right after Wednesday’s ruling.
The statewide mask mandate was set to expire Monday but now ends immediately following Wednesday’s ruling. The ruling could cut off federal food assistance worth $50 million a month to people with low income.
This move comes after President Joe Biden asked governors and state officials to keep the face mandate as the country saw a 20% increase in new cases and as new variants in multiple states.