Wisconsin governor: Republicans, state Supreme Court decided 'facts don't matter' in move to reopen state

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) late Wednesday denounced the state Supreme Court's decision to side with Republican legislators and strike down the extension of his stay-at-home order, saying the ruling would throw the state into "chaos" and lead to a spike in coronavirus cases. 

"The people of Wisconsin are the ones that should be very upset," Evers said on CNN shortly after the decision was released. "We worked really hard to stay at home and do all the right things around social distancing and so on and so forth."

Evers pointed to a recent Marquette Law School poll that found nearly 70 percent of Wisconsin voters approved the closure of schools and business and other social distancing restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

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"Wisconsin Republican legislators and those four Supreme Court justices decided that facts don't matter, the statutes don't matter," Evers added, arguing that the move amounted to turning the state into the "Wild West."

The Wisconsin Supreme Court's conservative majority earlier that day overruled Evers's extension of a stay-at-home order and directed him to work with the Republican-led state legislature to form an alternate plan. The decision was handed down just weeks after Republican lawmakers filed suit alleging that Evers's move to extend quarantine measures until May 26 went too far. 

The state Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday limits Evers's ability to make statewide directives during emergencies like a global pandemic. 

"In the case of a pandemic, which lasts month after month, the Governor cannot rely on emergency powers indefinitely," the court's four conservative justices wrote in their opinion, noting that Evers would need to work with the state legislature. 

Evers said on CNN that businesses across the state, including bars and restaurants, would open because of the decision. He criticized Republican legislators for not devising a reopening plan, saying that "we have no protections for the people of Wisconsin."

"This will cause the — us to sure have spikes across the state," he said. "There's no question about it. When you have more people in a small space, I don't care if it's bars, restaurants or your home, you're going to be able to spread the virus."

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Schools will not be affected by the court's decision, Evers said. But he noted that there are no guidelines on the use of face masks. 

Wisconsin's public health department has reported more than 10,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 421 deaths from it. 

Evers had begun to lift certain restrictions put in place at the outset of the outbreak. Earlier this week, he announced retail shopping in standalone locations or strip malls could open allowing for five customers at time. He argued late Wednesday that the state Supreme Court's decision was "frustrating" because Wisconsin was gradually meeting federal guidelines to reopen.