The WI State Supreme Court overturned the state’s stay-at-home order Wednesday on a 4-3 decision, calling it “unlawful and unenforceable.”
The emergency order was first put in place in March by Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Human Services under direction from Gov. Tony Evers. It was then extended until May 26.
The ruling does not mean life will return to normal in WI. The court’s ruling means it now falls to officials in the state’s 72 counties and in local municipalities to manage their communities’ response to COVID-19, effectively creating a patchwork of different rules and policies across the state.
The legal challenge to the stay-at-home order was brought by Republican state lawmakers. Four members of the court’s 5-2 conservative majority sided with Republicans, while conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s two liberal justices in supporting the Evers administration.
Under the court’s ruling, Evers’ administration could issue new stay-at-home orders, but it would need the approval of the Legislature’s rulemaking committee, which is run by Republicans. That effectively gives Republicans veto power over any future stay-at-home restrictions.
Evers told reporters Wednesday night that his administration would begin the rulemaking process Thursday morning, but cautioned that the process was a slow one. He said he was disappointed in the court, and in Republicans.