News Release

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a motion for an immediate injunction in a lawsuit in Polk County Circuit Court challenging the emergency declaration Governor Tony Evers ordered on July 30, and extended on September 22, in response to COVID-19. WILL filed a lawsuit on August 25, on behalf of three Wisconsin residents and taxpayers, to challenge the ability of Governor Evers to seize emergency powers more than once to address the same crisis.

The Quote: WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said, “This motion for an immediate injunction is a recognition that the executive branch in Wisconsin is, thus far, completely undeterred by the constraints of state law and must be reined in.”

What’s Next: The motion for an immediate injunction will go before the Honorable R. Michael Waterman on October 5, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Judge Waterman is a St. Croix County Circuit Court judge who is handling this case because both of the Polk County judges recused themselves from handling the case. Judge Waterman will decide whether the motion for an injunction ought to be granted or denied. If granted, Governor Evers’s emergency declaration could be struck down while the case is under consideration.

The Lawsuit: Governor Tony Evers declared a second public health emergency, Executive Order #82, on July 30, seizing emergency powers for a second 60-day period to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Accompanying the new emergency declaration was a mask mandate applying to all 72 counties.

WILL filed a lawsuit in Polk County Circuit Court, on behalf of three Wisconsin residents and taxpayers, on August 25. The lawsuit challenges the ability of Governor Evers to seize emergency powers more than once to address the same crisis. Governor Evers declared his first public health emergency in relation to COVID-19 in March 2020.

The declaration of a third COVID-19 emergency on September 22, in effect a continuation of the earlier emergencies, by Governor Evers represents a gross abuse of power. To interpret the law otherwise would allow one-person rule by the Governor for what could be a virtually unlimited amount of time whenever the vague statutory definition of a “public health emergency” or “disaster” can be said to be present. The result would be the total breakdown of our constitutional order.


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