Under Wisconsin law, the Governor can call a state of emergency for up to 60 days. Governor Evers first issued a state of emergency due to COVID-19 in March, resulting in a state-wide mask mandate that went the full 60 days. He then issued another in July, which he extended 60 days via executive order in September. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty challenged the second state of emergency as an unlawful use of the governor’s powers, following up with a motion for a temporary injunction while the case went through litigation.
On Monday, the judge denied the motion, stating:
Plaintiffs in this case don’t ask to preserve the status quo; they ask to change it. They ask the Court to give them the ultimate relief sought in their lawsuit – i.e. termination of executive Order 90. The Supreme Court has stated on several occasions that where the issuance of a temporary injunction would have the effect of granting all the relief that could be obtained by a final decree, and would practically dispose of the whole case, it ordinarily will not be granted unless the complainant’s right to relief is clear.
The judge went on to explain why relief was not clear in this case, stressing:
Nothing in the statute prohibits the governor from declaring successive states of emergency.
The case is Lindoo v. Evers and Regardless of whether the plaintiffs choose to appeal the denial of their motion, it will likely play an important role in defining gubernatorial authority.