By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — It’s been 131 days since the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate.
Critics of the governor’s endless emergency declarations want to know why the court is taking so long to come to a decision.
“Wisconsin is suffering from a constitutional crisis,” Erin Decker, Republican Party of Kenosha County chair, asserts in a letter this week to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack. “The citizens of Wisconsin have been forced to live under multiple unconstitutional extensions of emergency orders since Governor Evers’ executive order expired on May 11, 2020.”
Evers health czar at the time, Andrea Palm, issued what the administration claimed was a new health order before the original emergency declaration expired. The state Supreme Court ruled in mid-may that doing so violated state law, which prohibits the executive branch from issuing public emergency orders beyond 60 days. After that, the governor needs to work with the Legislature.
Evers disregarded the court’s ruling last summer when he issued a statewide mask mandate under a new emergency order. The administration argues it has the authority to issue new orders as conditions change.
Southeast Wisconsin businessman Jere Fabick took the governor to court arguing Evers broke the law by going around the Legislature.
“Since then, the citizens of Wisconsin have been waiting for a ruling to determine whether Evers legally had the power to issue multiple and back-to-back executive orders to declare multiple emergencies for the same pandemic without the legislature voting to extend them,” Decker wrote.
The party’s letter notes Evers’ shrugging off of a legislative resolution in February that ended the governor’s sweeping powers. The Democrat an hour later signed a new executive order and mandate dismissing the Legislature’s authority.
Kenosha County Republicans voice a sentiment shared by many Wisconsin residents: the court must decide.
“Wisconsin citizens will not stop demanding relief from these unconditional extensions of power …,” Decker wrote, calling the court’s delay a “dereliction” of duty.