Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts Dane County mask case

State's highest court will review whether Dane County officials can impose a mask mandate on their own.
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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a member of Wisconsin's Electoral College, casts his vote for the presidential election at the state Capitol on December 14, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
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Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is taking up another challenge to the power of Dane County’s public health managers.

The high court on Monday agreed to hear a case that questions whether Public Health Madison & Dane County’s director can issue a mask mandate on her own.

The challenge is coming from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. WILL’s Luke Berg says Dane County’s health department is once again acting beyond the constitutional limits on its power.

“This case presents the Court with an opportunity to clarify that local health officers cannot unilaterally issue orders that restrict daily life without approval from a legislative body,” Berg said. “The Dane County Board cannot pass the buck and allow an unelected health officer to issue whatever orders she sees fit.”

This is not WILL’s first challenge to PHMDC’s orders.

The Supreme Court ruled back in June on a challenge from WILL that Dane County’s public health director does not have the power to close the county’s schools on her own.

“The power to take measures ‘reasonable and necessary’ cannot be reasonably read as an open-ended grant of authority,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote at the time.

The Supreme Court’s decision to take the case came the same day as PHMDC extended the county’s mask mandate until February 1.

There’s no date for the new hearing before the court.