Tip Line: 414-777-5808 | newsdesk@cbs58.com

WI Supreme Court strikes down Evers administration’s Safer at Home extension

NOW: WI Supreme Court strikes down Evers administration’s Safer at Home extension


Updated: 10:53 p.m. on May 13, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – In a 4-3 decision, the state Supreme Court ruled to block the Evers administration’s extension of the Safer at Home order, immediately leaving the Badger State without a plan in place to fight the coronavirus.

The ruling now forces the Democratic governor’s office and the Republican-controlled Legislature, which have long been embroiled in a partisan quagmire, to work together and establish a new statewide response going forward.

“I’m very disappointed in the decision,” Governor Evers said in a press call Wednesday night. “Apparently, with the four that made this decision, facts don’t matter, the law doesn’t matter, precedent doesn’t matter.”

The four justices that ruled in the majority (Chief Justice Paige Roggensack, Justice Rebecca Bradley, Justice Daniel Kelly and Justice Annette Ziegler) concluded Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm overstepped her authority when issuing the Safer at Home order extension, which was set to expire May 26. The justices, all part of the court’s conservative majority, decided that such an order must go through a rulemaking process that involves the Legislature.

Roggensack, writing for the majority, wrote that, “rulemaking exists precisely to ensure that kind of controlling, subjective judgment asserted by one unelected official, Palm, is not imposed in Wisconsin.”

Only one conservative justice dissented. Justice Brian Hagedorn (joined by liberal Justices Rebecca Dallet and Ann Walsh Bradley) maintained that the powers Secretary-designee Palm was utilizing were given to her by the Legislature. Hagedorn added that citizens affected by the order had grounds for bringing lawsuits, but not the Legislature. “Such claims should be raised by those injured by the enforcement action,” Hagedorn wrote in the dissent. “Not by the branch of government who drafted the laws on which the executive branch purports to rely.”

Leaders of the Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau), believe they need to be involved in the decision-making process when it comes to the state’s response to the pandemic.

“This can no longer be just one cabinet member issuing those edicts, that apply to the entire state of Wisconsin, the Legislature has to be involved,” Fitzgerald told CBS 58 in a remote video interview. “There has to be some back and forth between the two branches of government to build confidence in what the governor was doing which I think some people had begun to question the rhyme and reason for some of the decisions that have been made.”

A Marquette University Law School Poll released Tuesday found that 69% of people who responded supported the Safer at Home order, though that was down from 86% support in late March.

Fitzgerald and his counterpart in the lower chamber, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester), have not put forth their own plan for a COVID-19 response, but they believe a collaborative effort is the most successful path with the governor.

The Senate Majority Leader told CBS 58 that he applauds the testing and tracing efforts implemented by the Evers administration, but that there are other issues he and other GOP lawmakers want to see addressed.

“I think the one thing that we’re going to have to deal with are the bigger societal questions about some of the bigger institutions and whether or not the come back after this is all over with,” Fitzgerald said. “What are we going to do with students? What are we going to do with churches? What are we going to do with major league sports?”

The ruling by the Supreme Court did not leave in place a six day stay that was requested by the Legislature, meaning the Safer at Home order is immediately ended.

Counties and municipalities are left to implement their own orders. Dane and Brown Counties and the City of Milwaukee acted to do so Wednesday night.

The ruling also leaves in place the closure of schools.

Governor Evers expressed concern that the lengthy rulemaking process – which may take more than ten days – will diminish the state’s efforts to fight the virus.

“[Republicans] have provided no plan,” Evers told reporters. “There is no question among anybody that people are going to get sick. The Republicans own that chaos.”


Posted: 5:00 p.m. on May 13, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP/CBS 58) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Tony Evers' administration overstepped its authority when it extended the governor's stay-at-home order until May 26.

Republican legislators asked the conservative-controlled Supreme Court to block the extension and let them offer their own recovery plan.

They argued that the extension amounted to state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Andrea Palm writing rules without legislative input.

The ruling marks another defeat for Evers as Republicans continue to chip away at the Democratic governor’s authority.

Share this article:
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Post a comment
People 21 days ago
The ruling was a question about the law and not the wisdom of the governors order. No governor has the unilateral power to do what he did. That’s it. That’s what the ruling says. Regardless of the wisdom or intent, any governor must work with the legislature to do what he did. Clearly all of you forget that you constantly accused Scott Walker of acting like a dictator. Remember?! A German priest after WW2 said....first the Nazis came for the Jews and I said nothing. Then they came for my neighbors and I said nothing. Then the came for me and there was no one left to defend me. Regardless of perceived wisdom, the law comes first or one day you will sound like that German priest.

I await your child like responses.

Kevin People 21 days ago
oh great a Nazi reference right off the bat! usually it takes a lil longer in these discussions before someone is being accused of being Nazis. I'm not sure if my response is "child like" as u predict as I am not a child but i do have a response ... You can say that this is what the ruling was about but I think that would be naive. Here is the ACTUAL state law written and passed BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE -- "the Health Dept may close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics" and "The Dept may authorize and implement all emergency measures necessary to control communicable diseases." You can look it up in the state statutes. That means LAW. Even conservative justice Hagedorn claimed that they must take the letter of the law.

Now why 4 of them ruled against the governor has more to do with their campaign donors, their political affiliation, and their ideology as much as youd like to think otherwise. Well Justice Kelly probably just wanted to stick it to the state that voted him out.

I think politically it will backfire especially if people start to be irresponsible and reckless (like we've seen in the crowded bar pictures and videos) and the virus spreads and we see an increase in cases.
Vos and Fitzgerald never had a plan and never will. Roggensack will lose in a few years.
Lawrence 21 days ago
The Repubs finally have their Crazy Palin's Death Panel.
It's called the WI Supreme Court. (The R Members only).
Chuck 22 days ago
Start spreading that virus Republicans! Freedom you know! YEA!
Tj 22 days ago
I just love how fitz and his girlfriend always talk while they are confined. I always voted republican, not any more, screw trump and all his pals
Evelyn 22 days ago
It will hurt the citizens of this state. I have had a relative that had the virus and needed up in the hospital for a week. He is still recovering from it. Vos and Fitzpatrick are politicians who don't care about people dying. Seeing Vos in the election with mask and the rest on made me sick. Money is the only thing that mattered to them. They don't even have a plan ready for the safer at home. How many more people have to suffer because of you two idiots.
Rommel 22 days ago
This will decrease the Covidiot population,especially Vos and Fitzpatrick,,leading to a stronger gene pool.
Kevin Rommel 22 days ago
if they catch it they can just follow Trump's advice and inject themselves with disinfectant ... all better.
EileenFelix 22 days ago
It's really not a loss for Governor Evers. It is a loss for Wisconsin residents. Once again a very partisan supreme court. The court has become a joke. Nobody is surprised at the vote. People will die because of those Republican judges who voted against the governor. For being the so called party of pro life they have proven they care about power not life!
Kevin EileenFelix 22 days ago
I agree with you that politically the Republicans are just digging a bigger hole and this ruling hurts them. Evers is no longer responsible if there is an increase in cases and Vos and Fitzgerald and the 4 yahoos on the court come off as putting dollars over lives - which they did. Some businesses were already reopening as the state was making goals plus the safer at home order was to end May 26 anyway. Evers comes out of this looking like the adult to a bunch of whiny babies who couldn't handle sacrifice. Roggensack will be a huge target to flip the supreme court.
Kevin 22 days ago
what a shock! lol - Roggensack, Ziegler, and Bradley continue to legislate from the bench and do the bidding of their corporate donors and right-wing special interest groups ... Kelly is done already and 2023 is when Roggensack will be defeated -- it will be interesting to see what "plan" Tweedle Dee (Vos) and Tweedle Dumb (Fitzgerald) come up with
JonN 22 days ago
When this virus explodes we'll know who to blame.
Kristen JonN 22 days ago
We already do, China...
Kevin Kristen 22 days ago
i thought President Trump praised China's response repeatedly and said they had it under control?? And who do you blame for this country being unprepared?
JonN Kristen 22 days ago
In the US that would be Trump..
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?