By now everyone in America is aware that Republican leadership in Wisconsin legislature complained to the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the renewal of the Wisconsin Stay At Home order was unconstitutional.
The first emergency order came from the Governor and it was uncontested by the Republican leadership.
“Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 using a state law that grants governors the power to address emergencies resulting from “a disaster or the imminent threat of a disaster.” The governor’s declaration authorized DHS to “take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to incidents of COVID-19.” The Legislature can revoke the governor’s powers, but even if lawmakers don’t act, they expire after May 11.”
The extension of the original order, however, did not come from the Governor. It came from the Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm. And she came to her job through an appointment. An emergency appointment that was never confirmed by Wisconsin Legislature. The Republican leadership does not like her and has since demanded that she be fired. This led to the complaint to the Wisconsin Supreme Court that an unelected and unconfirmed Cabinet Secretary was using the power of the law to shutter Wisconsin businesses.
“But it was Palm — not Evers — who issued Wisconsin’s initial Safer at Home order on March 24 and then extended the order until May 26 last week. Palm used the authority given to her under a different set of laws designed to manage communicable diseases. Those don’t require the governor’s approval, and they don’t expire with his emergency order.”
Section 252 of Wisconsin statutes grants powers to the DHS related to communicable diseases. Those powers include the ability to shutter businesses.
The conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court have now ruled that DHS order by Cabinet Secretary Andrea Palm is illegal. This is judicial activism at its worst.
In an unusual twist, the Republican leadership requested the ruling but they also requested that the effect of the Supreme Court ruling be delayed one week while working out new rules through the legislative process. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ignored this request and immediately blocked the Wisconsin Stay at Home order issued by Palm.
Which now leaves Wisconsin in limbo with no state-wide rules and each County can enact Public Health rules as they see fit.
This means nobody is going to pay attention to the County Health Departments’ “guidance” as law.
As you can imagine, the bars in northern Wisconsin are full of people drinking and cajoling and breathing infected air. A spike in Wisconsin’s COVID infection may be expected in four to seven days.
The nature of that spike and the deaths related to it is all on the heads of the Wisconsin Republican leadership and the Wisconsin Supreme Court who decided to meddle in Public Health and the powers granted to the Department of Public Health by law.
Politics kills people. We will know soon enough how many and for how long.