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Why a statewide mask mandate may come soon to Wisconsin

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Madison, Wis. (CBS 58) – Governor Evers has said that the state Supreme Court has ‘hamstrung’ his ability to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but that court is about to change giving his administration a window of opportunity to attempt to put in place a statewide mask order.

Jill Karofsky, who was backed by liberals in the spring election, will be sworn in on August 1 and shrink the conservative majority on the court from 5-2 to 4-3. The Safer at Home order was struck down in May in a 4-3 ruling with conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn siding with the two liberal justices. A legal challenge to the potential mask order may come down to Hagedorn.

“Any lawyer for the governor who’s reading the old supreme court decision is thinking, ‘what can we do that is somehow not perceived as tyranny?’” UWM Professor Mordecai Lee said in an interview.

Lee points out that the Safer at Home order was struck down focusing on the powers of DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s powers but not the governor’s powers.

“The key is how do you thread the needle, how do you do it legally and for the Supreme Court to say ‘this is different from last time.’”

In an event Wednesday, Sen. Tammy Baldwin said Evers should consider an attempt at putting in place a state-wide mask mandate, despite the conservative majority on the court.

“We should definitely look at trying again,” Baldwin said.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Chris Larson (D – Milwaukee) has circulated a petition to put in place a mask mandate which has more than 14,000 signatures as of Wednesday. He hopes it can be used to show how much public support there is for such an order.

“Just about every other country has done it, a majority of other states have done it. it’s time for Wisconsin to listen to the science on this,” Larson told CBS 58.

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