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Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks Evers’ stay-home extension

SeattlePI.com Wednesday, 13 May 2020
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' administration overstepped its authority when it extended the governor's stay-at-home order through the end of May, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The 4-3 ruling marks a defeat for Evers as Republican legislators, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and with the aid of the conservative-controlled high court, continue to chip away at the Democratic governor’s powers.

Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March that closed schools and nonessential businesses. The closures battered the state economy, but Evers argued they were necessary to slow the virus' spread. The order was supposed to lift on April 24, but Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Andrea Palm, an Evers appointee, extended it to May 26.

Republicans, worried about the economic fallout, asked the Supreme Court on April 21 to block the extension. The Republicans said Palm exceeded her authority and argued that the extension amounts to an administrative rule, requiring legislative approval.

Evers’ administration countered that state law clearly gives the executive branch broad authority to quickly enact emergency measures to control communicable diseases. Attorney General Josh Kaul also noted that Evers' order was similar to that in at least 42 other states and has saved many lives.

Nearly seven out of 10 Wisconsin residents still back Evers’ “safer at home” order, based on a Marquette University Law School poll released Tuesday. However, the support had dropped from 86% in March to 69% in May, driven by increasing opposition from Republicans, the poll showed.

The ruling doesn’t mean that Evers’ order is immediately void. Republicans had sought a temporary injunction to block the extension, with a six-day stay to give state health officials time to go through the...

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