La Crosse officials brace for potential drop of Wisconsin’s ‘Safer at Home’ order

UW-La Crosse experts expects Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule in favor of conservatives on 'Safer at Home'
Supreme Court Decision
La Crosse's mayor says inconstant rules make it difficult to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision could change the way communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Republican leaders in the state legislature want to block Governor Evers’s “Safer at Home” order. The power is now in the hands of the conservative controlled Supreme Court.

Public officials in Wisconsin are once again struggling to find common ground on a specific issue.

“We’re the ones that have to implement these orders and try to make sense of them,” said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat. “Unfortunately there just has not been a lot of consistency from leadership.”

Kabat said the lack of consistency from Madison officials could set an unclear path to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We rely on the people who have the expertise and the knowledge to be able to help guide us and establish those types of orders,” he said.

Many conservatives in the state believe state health secretary Andrea Palm’s “Safer at Home” extension goes beyond the authority of an unelected official.

“Isn’t it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work among other ordinarily lawful activities?” said Justice Rebecca Bradley, during a virtual hearing Wednesday.

UW-La Crosse professor Anthony Chergosky said he expects the pending Supreme Court decision to favor republicans.

“There’s never a dull moment in Wisconsin politics and the Wisconsin Supreme Court is no exception,” Chergosky said. “Go ahead and prepare the report for this ‘Safer at Home’ ruling being struck down by the way. This thing is toast.”

The governor’s side argues their ability to make these rules ensures quicker decisions for the safety of everyone. If Chergosky’s prediction holds true, La Crosse officials would have to wait for a replacement or implement their own plan with what they can control.

“We would still be able to do some things with our own city facilities … trying to reduce exposure and prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Kabat said.

Kabat said he thinks residents have done a good job listening to medical experts’ advice.

“I’d like to see that continue,” Kabat said.

Chergosky said Supreme Court rulings are no longer made with unbiased opinions. Medical experts have said the spread of this virus could intensify if communities open too soon.

“I say this for the liberal side on the Supreme Court, I say this for the Conservative side on the Supreme Court,” Chergosky said. “They are going to rule in favor of their political party.”

Chergosky said the ruling could set a precedent, giving the legislature veto power over executive branch’s rules in Wisconsin.