MADISON – The organizer of a protest at the state Capitol and others have sued health officials around Wisconsin arguing they can’t impose local stay-at-home orders to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Green Bay on Wednesday, a week after the state Supreme Court struck down the stay-at-home order that had been put in place by Gov. Tony Evers’ administration. That ruling did not address similar orders issued by local officials.
The suit was brought by 17 Wisconsin residents, including a pastor, a restaurant owner, a candidate for the state Assembly and Madison Elmer, who organized an April 24 protest that drew about 1,500 people to the Capitol.
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“The local orders unlawfully interfere with plaintiffs’ rights to work and to worship, to gather and assemble, in violation of their federal constitutional rights,” wrote their attorney, Joseph Voiland.
Voiland is a former Ozaukee County judge who challenged the order by the Evers administration last week in a separate lawsuit. That lawsuit had barely gotten off the ground when the state Supreme Court struck down the administration’s order in a separate suit brought by Republican lawmakers.
The newest lawsuit was filed against the public health officers for Milwaukee and Appleton, as well as those for Dane, Door, Green, Outagamie, Racine and Winnebago counties. Also named in the lawsuit were Evers, state Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, the members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the chiefs of the state Capitol Police and Grand Chute Police.
Those officials put in place their own orders after the state Supreme Court eliminated the statewide order. Some of those orders have been rescinded.
“This pandemic is the greatest threat to the public health and safety of families this generation will experience,” said a statement from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We will vigorously defend common sense provisions based on public health guidance to protect the well-being of the residents of Dane County.”
Said Evers’ chief counsel, Ryan Nilsestuen, “I’m optimistic that this lawsuit will go nowhere.”
Contact Patrick Marley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.
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