Empower Wisconsin | July 9, 2020
MADISON — Just as a federal judge held a hearing Wednesday morning on a temporary injunction against Dane County’s latest overreaching health order, Madison Dane Public Health Officer Janelle Heinrich released an updated edict.
The new twist — a public mask requirement — got all the headlines, and rightly so.
What didn’t get much coverage is the fact that the unelected health bureaucrats loosened up some of the earlier restrictions they slapped on Dane County residents. They did so, of course, with a federal lawsuit hanging over their heads.
At 8 a.m. Monday, the order will require everyone 5 and older to wear a face covering in all enclosed buildings, not including inside an individual’s living space. Health officials say they’re protecting Dane County residents from an uptick in COVID-19 cases. What they’re not saying is when the order will end. Don’t call them, they’ll call you.
Heinrich and the health crew must know they stand on shaky legal ground with the face mask mandate. The order, wrapped in woke language, gives those who don’t want to wear a face covering an out. So does the constitution, coincidentally.
“People should assume others have valid reasons for wearing or not wearing a face covering,” the document states.
Heinrich’s proclamation notes that the majority of people “are able to wear cloth face coverings,” but some people may have a medical or mental condition or a disability that prevents them from doing so.
“Additionally, some people of color in the U.S. have experienced harassment and racism due to wearing a face covering in public. The following Order should not be used as justification to harass or harm another person who is either wearing or not wearing a face covering,” the order asserts.
Joe Voiland, the Cedarburg attorney who filed a civil liberties lawsuit on behalf of some two-dozen plaintiffs, said Heinrich has no authority to issue such orders.
’It’s up to you if you wear one or not. If anyone takes action against you, be civil, be polite, but get out your phone and record it,’” Voiland said. “I’ll bring her (Heinrich) in as the first witness.”
The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District in Green Bay, seeks an immediate injunction against Madison, Dane County and Milwaukee public health directors and their sweeping health orders issued earlier this month. The mandates further restrict customer capacity at businesses, close inside service at bars, and strictly limit gatherings in public and private places.
Madison Dane Public Health, though, eased up on some of the limitations in the latest “mask order.”
Places of worship, for instance, are again allowed to hold services and gatherings at 50 percent capacity. As Empower Wisconsin reported last month, Dane County dropped its oppressive restrictions limiting church attendance after facing a legal challenge. The county, according to the Catholic Diocese of Madison and other faith organizations, unfairly treated places of worship differently than businesses and other entities.
But Madison Dane Public Health reverted back to its unequal treatment in an updated health order last week. It relents in the new order that goes into effect on Monday.
Health officials also loosened restrictions a bit on gatherings in residences. Dane County residents may welcome up to 10 visitors into their home. The previous order counted the home’s family members in that number; it no longer does.
The motion for an injunction against Madison and Milwaukee health officials is part of a broader liberty lawsuit.
It alleges state and local orders shutting down businesses and much of life at large in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs, as they have defied a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in May that declared such orders nonenforceable.
The suit seeks a temporary restraining order against local and state officials from “enforcing, attempting to enforce, threatening to enforce” orders that treat the plaintiffs differently than businesses and people deemed as “essential” to society. Ultimately, the litigation asks permanent injunctive relief, and damages.
Voiland said he’s hopeful for a quick resolution, but even if the court sides with the plaintiffs the attorney said the big government unelected bureaucrats won’t stop.
“They don’t care. They’re going to do something next to try to restrict individual liberties,” he said.