Conservative law firm files suit seeking repeal of statewide mask mandate
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
WISCONSIN – A conservative law firm last week filed a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the statewide mask mandate put in place by Governor Tony Evers after he declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evers implemented the mandate requiring all Wisconsinites over the age of 5 to wear face coverings indoors, with some exceptions, on July 30. It became effective on Aug. 1 and is set to expire on Sept. 28.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), representing Derek Lindoo of Balsam Lake, John Kraft of Roberts and Brandon Widiker of Amery, challenged the mandate and emergency declaration in Polk County court on Tuesday, Aug. 25, saying Evers violated state law by declaring a second public health emergency regarding COVID-19. WILL argues that the governor cannot declare more than one emergency about the same issue without legislative approval.
Evers issued the first emergency order in March. Legislative Republicans in April sued to block an extension of the order to May, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 on May 13 to strike down the extension of the order.
WILL says in the suit that the plaintiffs are harmed by the mandate “because, among other reasons: (a) Plaintiffs are being compelled to take an action (wear a mask in certain circumstances when Plaintiffs would otherwise choose not to wear a mask) by an unlawful order of Defendant Evers; (b) the State is spending taxpayer money to promulgate and enforce Defendant Evers’ unlawful mask mandate; (c) Defendant Evers now claims plenary powers; and (d) Defendant Evers has used these claimed emergency powers to deploy the national guard at taxpayers’ expense.”
Rick Eisenberg, WILL president and general counsel, said in a statement that the suit is not about whether or not a mask mandate can legally exist, nor about masks’ effectiveness.
“This lawsuit is about ensuring that a challenge like COVID-19 doesn’t erode our system of government subvert the law,” Eisenberg stated.
Britt Cudaback, Evers’ Deputy Communications Director, in a statement accused Republicans and their allies of attempting to “prevent the governor from keeping Wisconsinites healthy and safe.”
“We know requiring masks and face coverings will help us save lives, and Gov. Evers will continue listening to science and public health experts in making the best decisions for the people of our state,” she stated. “For background, it’s been more than 130 days since Republicans in the legislature last passed a bill. Every single Republican member should be asked to answer on the record whether they support this lawsuit, which could strike down the governor’s mask order and ultimately put lives at stake. Don’t buy WILL or Republican attempts to manufacture nuance where there isn’t any by saying this lawsuit isn’t about masks—Republicans either support keeping people healthy and safe based on the advice and guidance of public health experts and science or they don’t.”