Avatar
All Posts by Empower Wisconsin

Will Evers shut down schools again?

Empower Wisconsin | Sept 16, 2020 

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Dane County private schools received a reprieve last week from the local health department’s COVID-19 order, but will the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling open the door to another round of statewide lockdowns of in-person learning?

If the past is any indicator, Gov. Tony Evers’ power-grabbing health secretary will seize on the opportunity to push her administrative power beyond constitutional limits. Doing so, however, would create another pitched legal battle that would go right back before the Supreme Court. 

The court has agreed to hear and consolidate three lawsuits against Public Health Madison & Dane County and has issued a preliminary injunction against the agency’s order barring in-person education at all schools. The health department on Tuesday, citing statues, asked the court to vacate its own order. 

The decision is a huge victory for Dane County’s private schools, forced to switch to an all-virtual learning model last month after the health department issued the 11th-hour order under the guise of COVID-19 concerns. 

There are strong signs that the health department will ultimately lose in its defense of the health order, which requires pre-K-12 students in 3rd grade and up to learn remotely for at least the first quarter of the school year. The decision by the conservative-led majority states the petitioners are “likely to succeed on the merits of their claim.” 

“While reserving the remaining claims for later disposition, we conclude that local health officers do not appear to have statutory authority to do what the Order commands,” the court ruled. 

But the court order notes that state law gives specific powers to the state Department of Health Services, including the authority to “close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics.”

Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), says Team Evers could try to push a second state emergency and order schools shut down statewide — under the guise of a COVID-19 pandemic health crisis. Esenberg’s Milwaukee-based public interest law firm is representing some of the plaintiffs in the Dane County health lawsuit. 

The civil liberties attorney said the potentially unresolved question would be if Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm could issue an order on her own or whether she would need legislative input to do so. 

As the Supreme Court ruled in May on the lawsuit bearing the health secretary’s name, Palm violated state law when she extended Evers’ stay-at-home order without legislative oversight. One thing we have learned, is how much the liberal governor hates working with the Republican-led Legislature. This administration likes to act unilaterally, with no opposition. 

But the court doesn’t fully address the closing of schools in the Palm case. Evers’ unelected bureaucrats could push the boundaries of their power in the name of public safety. 

“We’re always worried about that because he’s done a lot of that,” Esenberg said. “I don’t know if he’s going to reach out and do that (force a statewide school closure order) so he can keep private schools in Dane County closed.” 

Listen to more:

Explore More
There’s no ‘Biden Rule’ in the constitution

There’s no ‘Biden Rule’ in the constitution

There’s no sugarcoating that the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court from the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes at a turbulent time in a turbulent year. With emotions running so high, people would be wise to start with the basics of our federal government structure.

Read More »

September 22, 2020
DHS wants 16 percent budget increase

DHS wants 16 percent budget increase

The state agency that led the lockdown of Wisconsin’s citizens and economy is seeking a whopping 16.4 percent increase its 2021-23 budget. 

Read More »

September 22, 2020
‘Without delay’

‘Without delay’

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) joined a chorus of his Republican colleagues this week in declaring that the U.S. Senate will “move forward without delay” on the nomination process to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Read More »

September 22, 2020
Obama’s pal Rahm criticizes Trump impeachment talk

Obama’s pal Rahm criticizes Trump impeachment talk

Even some Democrats are disappointed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D) new ploy. In her weekend interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, she seemed to welcome his idea that the Democrats could impeach President Trump if he proceeds with his Supreme Court nomination.

Read More »

September 22, 2020
A big victory for government accountability

A big victory for government accountability

Empower Wisconsin is proud to be part of a victorious lawsuit that holds the state Department of Public Instruction accountable and brings greater transparency to government. 

Read More »

September 21, 2020
Evers shows DWD chief the door

Evers shows DWD chief the door

Empower Wisconsin | Sept 18, 2020 By M.D. Kittle MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers’ Department of Workforce Development secretary Caleb…

Read More »

September 21, 2020
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *