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What's taking Wisconsin Supreme Court so long to rule on Safer at Home lawsuit?

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- It's been five days since the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard virtual oral arguments in the GOP lawsuit challenging the state's "Safer at Home" order, and the court has yet to issue a ruling.

Mordecai Lee, UW-Milwaukee professor emeritus, said he expected the justices to issue a decision quickly. 

"I'm really surprised. Friday afternoon, I was sort of looking at the clock thinking, 'Oh, for sure they'll do it before the weekend,'" Lee said.

In April, the state's highest court ruled within hours that Gov. Tony Evers lacked the authority to postpone the April 7 election. Lee cited that ruling as a reason he believed the court would act quickly in this lawsuit.

"I guess we have to interpret this as being meaningful, as being unpredictable because it's the opposite of what they did when they told the governor he could not cancel the election," Lee said.

The court, which has a 5-2 conservative majority, must decide whether Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had the authority to extend the "Safer at Home" order.

Justices heard oral arguments Tuesday in the lawsuit filed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Conservative justices raised doubts about the legality of the order.

"Isn't it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work among other ordinarily lawful activities?" asked Justice Rebecca Bradley.

DHS is represented by the Wisconsin Department of Justice in the case.

"People will die if this order is enjoined with nothing to replace it. That is exactly what will happen," said Assistant Attorney General Colin Roth during oral arguments.

Lee has several theories about what's taking the court so long. He said he believes either the justices could be writing an extremely long opinion that will be thorough and definitive, or the court is undecided.

"It could be that some of the people we associate as de facto conservative Republicans are maybe not jumping in the same direction as all of the other conservatives. It's possible that the court is deadlocked," Lee said.

To uphold the "Safer at Home" order, two conservative justices would need to side with the two liberals.

The Legislature asked the court to issue an injunction to block the order and to grant a 6-day stay after their ruling to give DHS time to come up with a solution.

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Paul 18 days ago
Reading the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Evers order clearly shows their understanding of the law and their ability to explain it. Very well written even a liberal might be able to understand how much sense it makes. Wisconsin is open for business!
Kevin Paul 16 days ago
lol - well written?? was the grammar ok?
David 19 days ago
Wisconsin = stupid. Go live your life, while AG Barr is still around
Richard523 20 days ago
If we look at the country called Sweden They have not locked down. Elementary school through ninth grade have remained open. Restaurant have a meet open and businesses have remained open. No one in that country where is a facemask. They have focused on heard immunity and are estimating to be fully done with this by the middle of May. I was going to call a month ago with the head epidemiologists who explained what he recommended for Sweden. As I said in an earlier posting those would compromise immunities and seniors need to be taken care of. Their safety and well-being is very important. The rest of the population can choose whether to carry-on their lives is normal war stay in their homes. Is there expecting to wait until there is a vaccine they may have a very long way for a can take anywhere from a year to 18 months for this to happen if it ever does. There is no HIV vaccine. There may be parts of the state that require a longer period to open up i.e. in the Milwaukee area if the data indicates that but the rest of the state should not be held hostage.
Kevin Richard523 3 days ago
the comparison is ridiculous because the citizens of Sweden followed the recommendations and kept groups under 10 even in public places that were still open .... and Sweden actually has seen a big problem in nursing homes -- the American public is unable to follow guidelines too many of them feel it does not effect them. New Zealand, on the other hand, completely shut everything down for several weeks where people basically stayed home and no public places were open. They basically eradicated the virus and show no new cases. Again - the citizens believed the risk and followed the plan. Two trains of thought but the key was the people took action and abided by the recommendations. Too many people in America do not care about the risk or do not believe they play a part in spreading it. In places that opened bars and beaches were packed with no precautions being taken. Irresponsible and potentially dangerous.
Richard523 20 days ago
The issue is quite clear. There is a choice between remaining shutdown and opening everything up at once. Remaining shutdown will create economic hardship, increase domestic violence, increase drug and alcohol abuse and increase mental illness and depression. A rational approach will get the economy moving in the right direction. There are no essential and non essential businesses but there are sanitary and unsanitary businesses. Given social distancing and appropriate sanitary all of the businesses should be able to open up within the next few weeks. Yes businesses will need to make adjustments I.e restaurants open at 50 % then 75 % then 100 % within a few weeks. This virus impacts the elderly and those with immunity issues. that segment of the population should stay home. The rest of the population i.e. at least 80% should not be locked down . Church services should not be locked down in the right to assemble should not be abolished. A state should not be ruled by one person and the legislative body needs to have input into this process. Indiana just a few hours away had already begun to open up. They are taking a thoughtful approach to opening up to stay. They will be completely open to all activities after the Fourth of July. They rightfully identified two counties that had large populations and permitted them additional time to open up. The rest of the state begin the process two weeks ago. That is the route Wisconsin needs to take in order to open up the economy.Those businesses that feeling comfortable opening up now have to choice not to open up but for the rest of the citizens of Wisconsin who want to open up and hat want to partake in activities that is there right.
signe1899 20 days ago
Common sense! We listen to the experts not people who have nothing else to do but think they are smarter! Safe at Home has kept people safer and things are improving although slowly! We wear masks not for us but to protect idiots who think they don’t need to wear one!
Paul 20 days ago
And where does that law say one person can perpetually close all businesses? Oh that’s right, it doesn’t. That is why the court needs to determine what is reasonable and what was intended. Plus, this is not an emergency.
Kevin Paul 20 days ago
a pandemic where 10% of your citizens has a highly contagious disease is not an emergency? even Buffoon-in-Chief Trump declared a national emergency
Kevin Paul 20 days ago
the law specifically states "the Health Department" - so the governor and the secretary of health and human services in consultation with health organizations and medical advisors made the decision. I know youd rather the governor just call one of the Koch brothers about what to do ... but making tough decisions to save lives is called Leadership.
Dave Kevin 20 days ago
You're only slightly off with 10%. The population of Wisconsin is approximately 5.8 million. As of today there are 10,418 people in the state with Covid-19 (source https://www.wha.org/COVID19Update?fbclid=IwAR0-g_dL2wpAey47BpA3I7xehribzrnL02L6-HXuQJtcv9quMDI7Gx69ThI) The Wisconsin Hospital Alliance. That is .001 of 1%, not 10%. And 409 people have died. That is .00007 of 1%.
Kevin Dave 17 days ago
u can only get a positive result if someone is tested so positive tests vs. population is not an accurate measure as millions of people have not been tested ... as you test more people you will see more positives thats common sense. the state dept of health reports 11,368 positive tests and approximately 133,000 tested. the percentage of positives to the number tested has fluctuated from 7% to 11% for the past 4 weeks.
Paul 21 days ago
There is no law that allows any one person in this state to dictate what business can be Perpetually open or closed. The potential for abuse on that would be so great. If you are scared or your health is comprised then stay home. Simple.
Kevin Paul 20 days ago
here is the ACTUAL state law written and passed BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE -- "the Health Dept may close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics" and "The Dept may authorize and implement all emergency measures necessary to control communicable diseases." You can look it up in the state statutes. That means LAW. Sounds pretty clear cut to me. Soon the so-called conservative supreme court will re-write this law. Talk about judicial activism. Roggensack, Hagedorn, Bradley, and Ziegler are political hacks in the pocket of corporations and wealthy donors - NOT interpreters of the law that they and their Republican partners claim
signe1899 Paul 20 days ago
Why don’t you ask the families of the 18,000+ people who have died from this virus if it’s an emergency! Then get on your knees and thank God you are well!
RoyEarle 21 days ago
This whole article is ludicrous. Why is does every news story have to include the adjectives liberal, Democrat, conservative, or Republican? This decision should not be determined on what side of the aisle the judge is on. Plain and simple, the ruling should be based on what the established law says. Nothing more or nothing less.
James RoyEarle 20 days ago
Judges routinely campaign and paint themselves as "liberal" or "conservative", and you can bet that this ruling will be divided based exactly along those lines, or very close.
KathleenEvansPrzekwas 21 days ago
People decide what happens to them, government does not. People can decide to wear masks if they want or if they are more vulnerable or they can stay home if they are more vulnerable. But all people do not have to be locked up because some people may die of a disease. That is ludicrous thinking.
No one is locking anyone away. It is about opening businesses in a safe way. Large groups of people close together will cause the spread of the virus. People do not have a right to infect others and some workers may be forced to work in high risk situations putting their health at risk.
AdrianElliott 21 days ago
""People will die if this order is enjoined with nothing to replace it." So Evers's order stopped all the deaths? If not, then what is he even saying, other than Evers owns all the deaths, since he is playing the Dictator role.
Kevin AdrianElliott 20 days ago
ridiculous hyperbole -- the safer at home order slowed the spread of the virus ... and yes that saved lives. now we need to re-open businesses in a smart and safe way that minimizes the risk. what dont u understand about that?
Kevin AdrianElliott 20 days ago
and if u feel the governor of the state has too much power you need only look to Tweedle Dee (Vos) and Tweedle Dumb (Fitzgerald) - Republicans spent years making Scott Walker very powerful (line item vetos, emergency powers, appointing) I guess thinking a Republican would always be governor. So your outrage should be directed at the Republicans in the state legislature.
AndrewGreen 21 days ago
isn't it funny how conservatives are accused of acting politically, but here the author automatically assumes how the two liberals will vote (in agreement with a democrat). Nothing to see here move along.
Kevin AndrewGreen 20 days ago
i guess we will see how they vote
1Oldtimer1950 21 days ago
Whatever the court outcome is the bottom line is people will die.Most won't remember the Hong Kong flu, a world flu. 1968 Pandemic (H3N2 virus) | Pandemic Influenza (Flu) | CDC
People are still getting the Hong Kong flu and probably dying, anyone who believes there's a vaccine coming for COVID-19 should invest in all the pharmaceuticals.
SarahBartel 21 days ago
https://covid19criticalcare.com/
SarahBartel 21 days ago
https://covid19criticalcare.com/
jeffer 21 days ago
The next time Mordecai Lee has an unpredictable hot take, it will be the first time...
Brandon 21 days ago
They will make a decision this week sometime I am guessing.
Kevin 21 days ago
5 of them are pulling their heads out of their you-know-whats -- that takes time when its so far up there
GeQur 21 days ago
Mr. Lee could it be that the Justices are just watching how this is playing out in terms of statistics and cases on a day to day basis so they can make a decision based on facts and not Party Politics which is what they have accused of doing in the past? Maybe, just maybe they see the value of the lives lost and the importance of taking their time to see if the Governor may be doing something right. After all Representative Voss did work at the election covered head to toe in plastic to protect himself, so he too must believe there is actually something to worry about. I hope for the people of Wisconsin, the Justices will do what is in the best interest everyone. Is that possible? I hope so! These are very difficult times for all of us.
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RayDustin66 Bassgeye 21 days ago
You are hilarious!

Do you often pull made up "facts" out of your butt? So crime, you say, is up 95% in Milwaukee. Funny, I can't find anything remotely verifying that. Not even the conservative trash rags are making such an exaggerated claim.

Go ahead, though. Open up the businesses. Besides setting us up for a major hit of COVID-19 in autumn or earlier, you will also cause the end of many businesses who will go bankrupt or out of business because there won't be the customer base to support them.

And even if people were crazy enough to risk coronavirus by going to businesses, I'm not sure they are willing to risk the 95% uptick in crime.

(On that last point, please, explain to us "not in the know" how opening businesses is going to return crime to more manageable levels? These very busy criminals will take time off and get a legit job? Curious and intellectual minds await your enlightening response.)
cruedud RayDustin66 21 days ago
It's you that is hilarious and should fix your Google, took me all of 5 seconds to verify crime is up, and I didn't even have to leave this site!!!!!!!!

https://www.cbs58.com/news/milwaukee-homicide-rate-up-96-compared-to-this-time-last-year
James GeQur 20 days ago
Considering these judges were barking about tyranny and saying that people who work in meat packing plants are not "regular" folk, I don't think that these judges are particularly nuanced or caring people, especially not the conservatives. Before you say it shouldn't be "political", you should tell that to the judges themselves who regularly campaign as conservative/liberal and receive endorsements from Dem/GOP politicians so it's clearly a highly politicized process.
Kevin cruedud 20 days ago
the claim that homicides are up in a 3 week period vs last year due to the pandemic is idiotic -- if its cause n effect then why were they up almost 100% in September vs the year before - there was no pandemic ... has nothing to do with the "safer at home" order
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