Wisconsin State Legislature Seeks High Court Review of New Safer-at-Home Order

The Wisconsin Legislature filed a lawsuit directly with the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm’s authority to keep Wisconsin’s economy closed and its residents locked down indefinitely – when even Gov. Tony Evers does not have that power.

The lawsuit accuses the Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-Designee of violating state law by extending the governor’s emergency rules, exceeded her authority by closing businesses and locking down individuals, acting “arbitrarily and capriciously” in her order, and usurping the legislature’s oversight powers. The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction.

“The governor has denied the people a voice through this unprecedented administrative overreach. Unfortunately, that leaves the legislature no choice but to ask the Supreme Court to rein in this obvious abuse of power,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a joint statement. “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.”

Evers’ issued a shelter-in-place order that went into effect on March 25, he calls “Safer at Home.” It shutdown businesses and organizations he deemed “non-essential,” and banned all gatherings of any number outside of a single family unit. That order was originally scheduled to end on April 24, but Evers has the ability to extend it up to May 10. That’s the day his emergency powers expire and he needs legislative approval to continue his original state of emergency.