Governor Tony Evers recently announced that the state mask mandate will be extended until 2021, despite the state's Supreme Court debating whether it actually has authority to do so.
Although Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has announced that he will be extending the state's mask mandate through early 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is reviewing whether the Democratic governor is transgressing his authority with such mandates. According to the Republicans in the state parliament, Evers' mask mandate is neither enforceable nor legal as the "state public health emergency related to the pandemic has expired".
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Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court helped virtual arguments "and took the case under consideration". However, the court is not expected to take a decision for weeks. Some of the questions the court will consider include:
Has Evers broken the law by placing orders that last longer than 60 days?
If the executive orders haven't broken the law, does he have too much legislative power?
Lawyer Matthew Fernholz represents the side that Evers is suing. He said, "So that the governor keep quoting the COVID-19 and saying," Well, it's still here, it's still there so I can declare a state of emergency. "No, you can't." He also noted that "state law does not allow emergency powers to remain indefinitely during a pandemic". If the court agrees with his reasoning, the mask mandate becomes invalid.
The Deputy Attorney General Hannah Jurss represents Evers. He said, "There is nothing that will limit the governor's ability to see that this new attack has occurred and has issued a new state of emergency." He said he believed the people filing the lawsuit were "interpreting the executive branch's ability as a unified approach". He added, "Evers should be able to implement new orders as new emergencies arise."
Commenting on the challenges to his power, Evers said he had the power "to trigger multiple health emergencies due to the changing threat of the pandemic."
The other side of the aisle argues that Evers "is only allowed to issue a 60-day health emergency for the same pandemic".
Despite the lawsuit, Evers only announced an extension of the mask order yesterday, which will not expire until the beginning of 2021. In discussing the lawsuit, he said:
“As many of you know, our current public health emergency and face-covering order is being contested in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Republicans in the Legislature support these efforts … So today I again urge Republicans to withdraw their support for this lawsuit and to publicly support our new Public Health Emergency and Face Protection Ordinance. It's time guys. We're not getting any takeovers here. Enough games. You have to join in and you have to start today. "
The governor of Wisconsin extends the mask mandate until 2021
The Wisconsin governor extends the public health emergency through 2021 and extends the mask mandate