Federal lawsuit challenges local stay-at-home orders

NOW: Federal lawsuit challenges local stay-at-home orders

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Just a week after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state's safer at home order, a new federal lawsuit challenges local orders that have replaced it.

The lawsuit argues the local orders violate people's First Amendment rights, and it wants a federal judge to toss the orders. Milwaukee, Racine, Rock County, Dane County and 13 other jurisdictions are being sued.

"The requirement in scripture is that we gather together to worship, and it doesn't mean gather spiritually, it's gather physically," said Pastor Dan Quakkelaar of the Friend of Sinners church.

He shut down the church in March before any government orders made him, but now, he wants to reopen like stores can.

"Don't let retail go off and have their fun, and then the churches can't abide by the same rules," said Quakkelaar.

He's one of 17 others challenging local health orders across the state restricting businesses, churches, and all aspects of life right now. Veterans Liberty Law Attorney Joe Voiland said these orders are wrong.

"An order that universally tells everyone to stay home or tells everyone not to go to work, with the exceptions that the health officer comes up with on his or her own, are invalid," said Voiland.

He's asking a federal judge to stop cities and counties from enforcing these orders while it sorts through whether they're even legal in the first place. Voiland said the State Supreme Court ruling gives his case a leg up.

"People who are not infected or suspected of being infected do not fall under the authority of the health officers," said Voiland.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the city's health department is following the law. He said if this lawsuit wins, he's unsure how the government would protect public health.

"If in fact we're doing this wrong, then I think you have to question whether health departments anywhere have a right to exist," said Barrett.

A federal judge in Illinois ruled against a church which had filed a similar lawsuit against Illinois' stay at home order at the beginning of the month. The church has asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision. Any decision from the appellate court would generally apply to similar cases in Wisconsin.

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