State supreme court strikes down Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order

On May 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in 4-3 ruling, struck down the state’s stay-at-home order. The court found that Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm overstepped her authority when she extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 26 on behalf of Gov. Tony Evers (D). This marks the first instance of a statewide stay-at-home order being struck down by a court of last resort.

The suit was brought by the state legislature. Republican lawmakers had asked the court to strike down the stay-at-home order but stay the decision by several days in order to give them and the governor time to develop a replacement plan. The court declined to do this, and restrictions imposed on individuals and businesses were immediately lifted.

Under the most recent stay-at-home order, individuals had been directed to remain at home, with exceptions made for performing essential and other permitted activities. The most recent order had allowed retail businesses to offer curbside pick-up and delivery services and golf courses and other outdoor recreation spaces to reopen, subject to social distancing protocols.