Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down mask mandate

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 9:11 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, ruling that the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by unilaterally extending the mandate for months through multiple emergency orders.

The 4-3 ruling Wednesday by the conservative-controlled court is the latest legal blow to attempts by Evers to control the coronavirus.

It comes after Republicans in the Legislature voted to repeal the mask mandate, only to see Evers quickly re-issue it. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu applauded the ruling, accusing the governor of abusing his emergency powers.

“The Legislature exercised its authority to revoke Governor Evers’ order in February, and today the Court handed down the final rebuke of the Governor’s illegal actions,” he said.

The court ruled that any public health emergency issued by Evers is valid for just 60 days and can’t be extended without approval of the Legislature.

In his response to Wednesday’s ruling, Evers did not specifically address the justices’ ruling. Instead, he opted to defend his decision to issue the order and urge everyone to continue wearing masks, saying, “since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve worked to keep Wisconsinites healthy and safe, and I’ve trusted the science and public health experts to guide our decision making.”

“Our fight against COVID-19 isn’t over - while we work to get folks vaccinated as quickly as we can we know wearing a mask can save lives and we still need Wisconsinites to mask up so we can beat this virus and bounce back from this pandemic.” he continued

Nearly 60 organizations, including groups representing hospitals, doctors and nurses, had opposed striking down the mandate.

Despite the statewide mandate ending, local ones, such as those issued in Dane Co. and Rock Co., remain in effect.

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