Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees to hear case over COVID-19 restrictions

·2 min read

MADISON –The state Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case regarding Dane County's COVID-19 restrictions.

The decision to take the case comes a year after the justices declined to accept a similar case from the same plaintiffs. Any ruling it issues could have broad implications for what limits local governments can put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The justices issued a short order saying they were accepting the case. No dissents were noted.

Subscribe to our On Wisconsin Politics newsletter for the week's political news explained.

They will determine later when to hold arguments, but a decision is expected by summer.

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty first filed a lawsuit over the issue in November 2020 on behalf of two Dane County residents. The group filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court, but the justices quickly issued a 4-3 ruling saying they would not take it because the case should have started in circuit court.

Soon after, the institute filed a similar lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court. Judge Jacob Frost ruled in the county's favor in July and threw the case out.

The losing side appealed and asked the Supreme Court to take the case without having the District 4 Court of Appeals weigh in on it first. The justices on Monday agreed to do that.

The group first brought the lawsuit because of a health order that required businesses to operate at half capacity and a county ordinance that gives health officials the power to issue restrictions meant to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Last year the Supreme Court struck down the stay-at-home order that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' administration put in place in the early stages of the pandemic. This spring, it blocked Evers from issuing mask requirements.

Since then, COVID restrictions have been left to local officials, rather than state authorities.

The latest case will determine how much power those local entities have. If the lawsuit succeeds, local governments may have to start voting on the details of COVID restrictions, rather than leaving those decisions to health officials.

The lawsuit was brought by Jeffrey Becker of Verona and Andrea Klein of Stoughton.

Becker's four children play for the Madison 56ers, a competitive traveling youth soccer team. Klein's sons participate in the Stoughton Youth Hockey Association.

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.

DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear case on COVID restrictions

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting