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Wisconsin legislature sues to block enforcement of governor's stay-at-home order
The Republican-led Wisconsin legislature is calling on the state's Supreme Court to temporarily block enforcement of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers's stay-at-home order just days after he extended the directive through May 26.
In an emergency petition, the legislature argued that the emergency order goes beyond the executive branch's statutory powers.
"Wisconsinites are forced to sit by with no voice in the process," Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) said in a statement. "Other Midwestern states with more confirmed cases, like Ohio, have set firm dates to begin a phased reopening far earlier than the Evers administration."
Evers's office last week extended its stay-at-home order by more than a month and closed public schools for the rest of the academic year. In announcing the decision, Evers said that social distancing requirements were working and that the state had seen a drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But he stressed that an extension of the order was needed to keep communities safe.
Evers permitted some adjustments to the original directive, including opening golf courses.
Vos and Fitzgerald, however, said the decision amounted to "unprecedented administrative overreach" that left them with no choice but to "ask the Supreme Court to rein in this obvious abuse of power."
"Wisconsinites deserve certainty, transparency, and a plan to end the constant stream of executive orders that are eroding both the economy and their liberty even as the state is clearly seeing a decline in COVID infections," they added.
The lawmakers assert in the filing that both the legislature and the public will be "irreparably harmed" if the order is not blocked.
The legislature is asking the court to stay enforcement of the injunction for six days to allow for a new order complying with Wisconsin law.
"Such a stay would fairly accommodate the parties' mutual interest in preserving the status quo and ensuring no disruption to the state's efforts to control the spread of COVID-19" while the governor's office takes steps to comply the law, the filing states.
"Legislative Republicans told the 4,600+ people in the state of Wisconsin who have contracted COVID-19 and the families of the 242 people who have died, we don't care about you -- we care about our political power," Evers said on Twitter.
"Apparently, instead of having us act quickly and decisively to respond to a crisis, Republicans would rather have us jump through hoop after hoop and ask for their permission to save lives," he added in a separate tweet. "Folks, we don't have time. COVID-19 will not wait."
Wisconsin's health department has reported more than 4,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 242 deaths from it.
The new push from state Republicans comes as debates emerge around the country over whether some regions are in a position to begin safely reopening portions of their economy. Protesters have gathered in states such as Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan to voice opposition to some of the restrictions.
Updated at 10:41 a.m.