Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers gravely warned of a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths after the state Supreme Court's conservative majority late Wednesday struck down his stay-at-home order, siding with Republican lawmakers who sued over the restrictions.
In an appearance on MSNBC following the court's ruling, Evers slammed the 4-3 decision (pdf) as one without any basis in "statute, precedents, or the facts." Four conservative judges, said Evers, "have thrown our state into chaos." Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court's two liberals in dissent.
"We are in the wild west," said Evers. "There are no restrictions at all across the state of Wisconsin... We are going to have more cases, we are going to have more deaths. And it's a sad occasion for the state. I can't tell you how disappointed I am."
As the local Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, the state Supreme Court's ruling "immediately lifts all restrictions on businesses and gatherings imposed by the administration's order but keeps in place the closure of schools until fall."
"Republicans who brought the lawsuit had asked the justices to side with them but to stay their ruling for about a week so legislators and Evers could work out a new plan to deal with the pandemic. The justices declined to do that and had their ruling take effect immediately," the Sentinel reported. "To put any new limits in place, the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature will be forced to work together to deal with the ebbs and flows of the outbreak — something the two sides have rarely been able to achieve before."
Wisconsin has over 10,500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and at least 400 deaths. In a statement, Evers said "we cannot let today's ruling undo all the work we have done and all the sacrifices Wisconsinites have made over these past few months."
"We need everyone to continue doing their part to keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe by continuing to stay safer at home, practice social distancing, and limit travel, because folks, deadly viruses don't wait around for politicians and bureaucrats to settle their differences or promulgate rules," said Evers.
Judge Rebecca Dallet, one of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's two liberal judges, wrote in her dissent that the ruling "will undoubtedly go down as one of the most blatant examples of judicial activism in this court's history."
"And it will be Wisconsinites who pay the price," Dallet wrote.