Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled against the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order on May 13, overruling Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ decision and authority. The Republican-controlled Supreme Court decided in a 4-3 ruling to “leave it up to local governments to enact their own rules for combating the coronavirus pandemic,” according to APNews. It was originally believed the stay-at-home order would remain in place for several days to allow officials to create a set plan, however, the ruling went into effect immediately, according to NewsWeek. Evers warned of “massive confusion” following this decision. Several bars and restaurants across the state opened immediately following the decision while others remained closed or continued to implement strict restrictions. Evers said he believed the same set of rules and restrictions should be implemented across the state. In order to have a statewide plan, however, both parties must reach an agreement.
This is one of several cases of Democratic governors clashing with Republican-led Supreme Courts on the issue of COVID-19 restrictions. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Louisiana, for example, have experienced similar challenges. On May 13, Republicans denied Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s request to extend a disaster declaration.
Nearly 70% of Wisconsinites supported the “safer-at-home” order, according to APNews. Several cities, including the state capital of Madison, chose to continue implementing “safer at home” measures. Evers reminded the state’s residents on Twitter that “just because the Supreme Court says it’s okay to open, doesn’t mean that science does.” He encouraged Wisconsinites to continue to practice social distancing and limit travel.
Some believe Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruling could set the stage for more states to follow in its footsteps. The decision could encourage other Republican-led state Supreme Courts to encourage the end of statewide stay-at-home orders and give authority to local governments. This could result in the rapid increase of the spread of the coronavirus. With businesses reopening and life returning to normal, people will feel as if the pandemic is over and fail to take the right precautions. In addition, the state Supreme Court’s ruling appears to be more about partisanship rather than the reality of the virus.
On the other hand, some believe the Wisconsin Supreme Court made the right decision by upholding the rule of law. The decision gives more power to smaller governments and allows residents to make suitable decisions for themselves and their economy. Justice Daniel Kelly argued state-wide stay-at-home orders control virtually every aspect of a person’s life, which is not representative of a free society nor the United States of America. Small business owners argue if large stores such as Walmart, Costco and others can remain open safely, they can too.
There have been 13,885 positive cases of COVID-19 and 487 COVID-19 related deaths reported in Wisconsin as of May 21.