Judge denies temporary injunction against mask order
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
A Polk County Circuit Court Judge has denied the temporary injunction sought by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty challenging Gov. Tony Evers’ recent public health emergency required face coverings in public places.
In his decision, Judge Michael Waterman quoted a 1977 court case that stated that “Temporary injunctions are to be issued only when necessary to preserve the status quo.” He said the plantiffs don’t ask to preserve the status quo, they ask to change it.
“The plaintiffs’ right to relief is not clear. Although the plaintiffs agree that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency, they believe that the governor may not issue successive executive orders for the same emergency without violating the 60-day limit of section 323.10,” Waterman states in his decision. “To reach that conclusion, the governor argues, one must deviate from the language of the statute and find meaning that is not expressed by the text. The Court agrees. Nothing in the statute prohibits the governor from declaring successive states of emergency. Instead, the statute allows a declaration “if the governor determines that a public health emergency exists.” That language gives the governor broad discretion to act whenever conditions in the state constitute a public health emergency.”
Waterman also stated that though the plaintiffs are three private citizens, the injunction would go beyond their interests and affect everyone in the state by a “judicial act that usurps the governor’s power to declare a state of emergency and the legislature’s power to end one.”
The legislature, he noted, can end the state of emergency at anytime, but has so far declined to do so. Governor Tony Evers released a statement following the court decision.
“Today’s ruling is a victory in our fight against COVID-19 and our efforts to keep the people of Wisconsin safe and healthy during this unprecedented crisis,” said Evers. “As the number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin reached 150,000 yesterday, we will continue doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus. We ask Wisconsinites to please stay home as much as possible, limit travel and going to public gatherings, and wear a mask whenever out and about.”