Wisconsin Supreme Court curbs Evers’ pandemic powers — 3/30/21

Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Gov. Tony Evers will have to get legislative permission to issue any more public health emergency orders, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled Wednesday. The high court’s ruling means that the statewide mask order — set to expire today — cannot be reinstated without the Republican-controlled Legislature’s approval. The court declared in a 4-3 decision that Evers lacks the authority to issue successive health mandates, which under state law are limited to 60 days. “We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic,” Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote in a dissenting opinion, adding, “the majority not only arrives at erroneous conclusions, but it also obscures the consequence of its decision.”

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“The question in this case is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not.”

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn striking down Gov. Tony Evers’ authority to issue multiple emergency health orders without legislative approval.

“They (conservative justices) got it 100% backwards today. The majority’s decision pretends that a pandemic is unchanging and ignores the devastating human impact of COVID-19. And it ensures that Wisconsin’s response to future pandemics will be more complicated and take more time, which in turn will cost more lives.”

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, reacting to the decision.

“Especially in trying times, our citizens need to know that there are still checks and balances in our government and that one man cannot claim powers he hasn’t been given by the people.”

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, in a tweet.

Data to note

Click on the image above to see Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 vaccine data, which is updated daily.

Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which showed Wednesday that 30.3% of Wisconsinites ages 65 and older have gotten at least one dose — as have 75.3% of the state’s overall population. Racial disparities persist in distributing vaccines. The shares of Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to receive a dose remain below that of white residents.

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed. On Wednesday, the state DHS reported 563 new cases and 10 new deaths. The statewide death toll is now 6,622. 

WisContext offers this visualization. 

Find a vaccine site near you

DHS has this interactive map of vaccine providers across Wisconsin. Vaccinations are generally by appointment only and it may take time to schedule appointments with providers due to limited supplies of vaccines. Curious about how well your county is doing on vaccinations? The Washington Post created this searchable map

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Wisconsin Supreme Court curbs Evers’ pandemic powers — 3/30/21 is a post from WisconsinWatch.org, a non-profit investigative news site covering Wisconsin since 2009. Please consider making a contribution to support our journalism.

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