Story at a glance
- A 4-3 vote in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court struck down the statewide mask mandate.
- The court ruled that in order for the mask order to be reimplemented, the state legislature must approve it.
The state of Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) statewide mask mandate on Wednesday morning, and further blocked Evers from issuing new public health protocols associated with mandatory facial mask coverings, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The conservative-dominated court ruled 4-3 in blocking Evers’s mask mandate, ruling that he exceeded his gubernatorial authority in mandating people wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many governors, Evers initially signed an executive order enforcing universal mask wearing across the state.
"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 reportedly wrote.
In order for a mask mandate to be successfully passed in Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled state legislature would need to approve it in a joint resolution.
“The statute contemplates that the power to end and to refuse to extend a state of emergency resides with the legislature even when the underlying occurrence creating the emergency remains a threat,” the ruling reads.
Evers’s mask mandate has been previously embattled, with Wisconsin Republicans passing a resolution back in February repealing the emergency order. This prompted the governor to issue a new one, specifically citing the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 mutation as a new threat that stands to increase new infections.
On Twitter, Evers continued to advocate universal mask wearing, saying that science has proven masks help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
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.— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) March 31, 2021
Echoing the Democratic governor are more liberal Wisconsin justices, such as Ann Walsh Bradley, who disavowed the conservative judges’ ruling.
“This is no run-of-the-mill case. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic,“ Bradley wrote. “With the stakes so high, the majority not only arrives at erroneous conclusions, but it also obscures the consequence of its decision."