Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.

In a 4-3 decision, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s stay-at-home order was “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.”

Wisconsin becomes the first state to have its highest court overturn such an edict.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said the case was about the statutory limits on unelected officials to make state policy without observing the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding any such action.

Emergency Order 28, issued in Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s name, closed “non-essential” businesses and ordered all people in the state to stay home. It closed schools, banned most public gatherings, travel. It also established penalties for noncompliance: 30 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both.

Republican legislators challenged Palm’s authority to make such rules on her own, without following any of the legally required procedures.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote:

However well-intentioned, the secretary-designee [Palm] of the Department of Health Services exceeded her powers by ordering the people of Wisconsin to follow her commands or face imprisonment for noncompliance. In issuing her order, she arrogated unto herself the power to make the law and the power to execute it, excluding the people from the lawmaking process altogether. The separation of powers embodied in our constitution does not permit this. Statutory law being subordinate to the constitution, not even the people’s representatives in the legislature may consolidate such power in one person.

Bottom line: even in the midst of a health emergency, the constitution still applies.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said the ruling “puts our state into chaos,” and “ thanks to the Republican legislators who convinced four Supreme Court justices to not look at the law but look at their political careers I guess — it’s a bad day for Wisconsin.”

Image Credit: By St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons