Photo from Activedia / 201 images on Pixabay.
On Tuesday, the conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, announced that it would be challenging Governor Tony Evers’ mask mandate in court. The firm filed the lawsuit in the Polk County circuit court on behalf of three Wisconsin residents.
Governor Evers’ mask mandate requires all Wisconsin residents to wear masks while indoors at public locations.
“That means you can still go for a walk outside, go swimming, or eat without a face covering on,” said Evers when he announced the mandate. “But if you’re going to head to the grocery store or you’re supporting a local restaurant and waiting for your food, we need you to mask up, folks. And if you are at a private residence but you’re with a small group of people, we’d still encourage you to wear a face covering.”
But Rick Esenberg, the executive director of WILL, which is bringing the lawsuit, says, Evers overstepped his authority by implementing the mandate through executive order.
“He has chosen to act unilaterally so that he need deal with no one on this, and that, it seems to us, is simply something that he cannot do,” said Esenberg on Tuesday. “That is contrary to the law, it’s contrary to the state constitution, and although we waited a while to see whether the legislature would act-apparently they are not going to-we believe that it’s important for someone to say, look, this is not what our law permits. However you feel about the COVID pandemic, however you feel about a mask mandate, this is not the way in which this is supposed to be done.”
To enforce the mandate, Governor Evers declared a state of emergency on August 1st, granting him additional authority for sixty days.But Evers also declared a state of emergency back in March, citing the pandemic. WILL says in the lawsuit that the governor does not have the ability to declare two separate states of emergency for the same cause.
The three plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Derek Lindoo, Brandon Widiker, and John Kraft, all of whom are cited in the complaint as Polk County residents. Kraft is the chairman of the St. Croix Republican Party. If the court rules in their favor, then Evers’ public health emergency would end, eliminating Evers’ statewide mask mandate.
A hearing date has not been set. Polk County circuit court could pass the case up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but has not yet said whether or not it will do so.