Wisconsin Supreme Court Says the State's COVID-19 Lockdown Violated the Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers

A seemingly arcane dispute about administrative law has profound implications for the limits of public health authority.


After the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned that state's COVID-19 lockdown yesterday, Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, declared that Republicans "have thrown the state into chaos." He was referring to how residents might react now that they are no longer legally required to remain at home and keep their businesses closed. But the justices were concerned about a different sort of anarchy: the kind that happens when governments impose sweeping restrictions on individual freedom, backed by the threat of criminal penalties, without proper legal authority.

The court's decision focuses on a technical issue of statutory interpretation: Was Emergency Order 28, which acting Secretary of Health Services Andrea Palm issued on April 16, an "order," as she maintained, or a "rule," as the Republican leaders of the state legislature argued? If it was a rule, as the court concluded, it was clearly illegal, since Palm admittedly did not follow the statutory requirements for emergency rulemaking.

What might seem like an arcane dispute about administrative law has profound implications for the use of coercion to protect the public from communicable diseases. Can a single executive branch official do whatever she thinks is necessary to deal with an epidemic, or is she constrained by the limits the legislature has imposed on her authority? The answer tells us whether vital principles such as the separation of powers and the rule of law can be suspended or ignored whenever a governor declares a public health emergency.

Emergency Order 28 extended Wisconsin's original March 24 lockdown, which would have expired on April 24, until May 26. The sorts of restrictions this entailed are by now familiar but are worth emphasizing, lest we forget the unprecedented extent to which COVID-19 control measures have interfered with the liberties and livelihoods of people throughout the country.

Palm's order banned "all forms of travel" except those she deemed essential; required "all for-profit and non-profit businesses" she did not consider "essential" to "cease all activities" except for "minimum basic operations" and work done at home; prohibited "all public and private gatherings of any number" involving people who were "not part of a single household"; closed all places of "public amusement and activity," whether "indoors or outdoors," except for golf courses; continued the closure of bars and restaurants (except for takeout and delivery) as well as salons, spas, K–12 schools, and libraries; imposed a 10-person limit on religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals; and required all residents of the state, except for members of the same household, to maintain a distance of at least six feet from each other. Palm said violations were punishable by a $250 fine, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

The question before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was not whether these sweeping restrictions were sensible, proportionate, or necessary. It was whether Palm had the legal authority to impose them.

Palm, a former Obama administration official who was appointed by Evers to head the Department of Health Services in January 2019 but has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate, argued that her order was authorized by the statute that describes her department's powers. That law says the health department "may authorize and implement all emergency measures necessary to control communicable diseases."

More specifically, the department "may close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics." The law also authorizes the department to "promulgate and enforce rules or issue orders for guarding against the introduction of any communicable disease into the state, for the control and suppression of communicable diseases, [and] for the quarantine and disinfection of persons, localities and things infected or suspected of being infected by a communicable disease."

Another statute explains what the health department is supposed to do when it issues one of those rules. An "emergency rule," deemed necessary for "preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or welfare," is not subject to the usual "notice, hearing, and publication requirements." But the agency issuing it still has to follow certain procedures, including publication of a statement describing the scope of the rule in the Wisconsin Administrative Register, "a preliminary public hearing and comment period" if a co-chairman of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules asks for them, approval of the proposed rule by the governor, and a "fiscal estimate for the rule" sent to every state legislator.

Because Palm did not follow those procedures, the legislators who brought this lawsuit argued, her lockdown order was illegal. Palm contended that her order did not qualify as a "rule." A four-justice majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed, noting that state law defines a "rule" as "a regulation, standard, statement of policy, or general order of general application that has the force of law and that is issued by an agency to implement, interpret, or make specific legislation enforced or administered by the agency or to govern the organization or procedure of the agency."

Even while insisting that her order should not be viewed as a rule, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack notes in the majority opinion, Palm purported to impose criminal penalties for violating it. "It has long been the law in Wisconsin that in order for the violation of an administrative agency's directive to constitute a crime, the directive must have been properly promulgated as a rule," Roggensack says.

Furthermore, Palm's order defined the crime she purported to punish without referring to any statute. "The prohibited 'criminal conduct' to which Palm refers is factually defined solely by Emergency Order 28," Roggensack notes. "Counsel for Palm admitted as much at oral argument when he said that there was only one element that needed to be proved in a criminal prosecution for a violation of Emergency Order 28: that a provision of the order was violated. Such an argument is without legal foundation and ignores more than 50 years of Wisconsin law."

Roggensack emphasizes that the rules for making rules are not merely picayune requirements that can be ignored when an agency head thinks they unreasonably impede her ability to respond to an emergency. "Rulemaking exists precisely to ensure that kind of controlling, subjective judgment asserted by one unelected official, Palm, is not imposed in Wisconsin," she writes. "Rulemaking provides the ascertainable standards that hinder arbitrary or oppressive conduct by an agency."

Even if Palm's order were not subject to rulemaking requirements, the majority says, it would exceed the scope of her legal powers. While the health department has the authority to "quarantine those infected or suspected of being infected," for example, the lockdown goes much further than that, telling "all individuals present within the State of Wisconsin" they must "stay at home or at their place of residence" except for Palm-approved purposes. "She also prohibits 'all public and private gatherings of any number of people that are not part of a single household or living unit,'" Roggensack notes. "Again, this directive is not based on persons infected or suspected of being infected."

Other language in the statute—e.g., authorizing "all emergency measures necessary to control communicable diseases"—could be read to authorize Palm's order. But it also could be read to authorize pretty much anything, which is a problem, as Justice Daniel Kelly suggests in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Rebecca Bradley.

"Under our constitutional form of government, the Legislature cannot possibly have given the Secretary the authority she believes she has," Kelly writes. "In the Secretary's view, the Legislature gave her plenary power to simply 'act' without the need of any further statutory or regulatory policy. Her brief candidly asserts there are no statutory or regulatory limitations on her authority to address communicable diseases….If we agreed with the Secretary's reading of [the law], we would have to conclude the statute violated the separation of powers by conferring on the Secretary the power to make laws without going through the rule-making process."

In a concurring opinion joined by Kelly, Bradley highlights the issues at stake in this case. "However well-intentioned, the secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services exceeded her powers by ordering the people of Wisconsin to follow her commands or face imprisonment for noncompliance," Bradley writes. "In issuing her order, she arrogated unto herself the power to make the law and the power to execute it, excluding the people from the lawmaking process altogether."

For those who think the separation of powers is a luxury we cannot afford during emergencies, Bradley quotes from Ex parte Milligan, the 1866 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that civilians could not be tried by military tribunals during the Civil War:

Those great and good men [the Framers] foresaw that troublous times would arise, when rulers and people would become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper; and that the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril, unless established by irrepealable law. The history of the world had taught them that what was done in the past might be attempted in the future. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.

"It is especially in times of emergency that we must protect the rights of the people," Bradley writes, "lest we establish a dangerous precedent empowering less benevolent government officials in the future to oppress the people in the name of exigency."

NEXT: Senate Renews FBI Surveillance Powers With Modest Reforms

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169 responses to “Wisconsin Supreme Court Says the State's COVID-19 Lockdown Violated the Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers

  1. It’s not public health, it’s my health.

    1. Do you live in a cave or something? The minute you interact with another human being in meat space it counts as public health. Externalities are a thing libertarians should be concerned with. Your health can have effects on the health of others. Unless you live in a cave or something.

      1. “The minute you interact with another human being in meat space it counts as public health”

        Ok Karen.

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      2. As a Libertarian, I wonder why you make it my responsiblity to make the world safe for your choices.

        Fuck you and your slaver public health con.

      3. A natural virus that can infect cats and homeless people isn’t a fucking externality any more than a brush fire burning through my property is an externality. It is an act of nature.

      4. Then I have to wonder – why are you here?

        You’ve just put out a justification for the mutual enslaving of the entire human race. We must all be controlled – under this paradigm – because that’s the only way to manage those externalities.

        So, given that you’ve basically rejected the defining tenent of libertarianism, why do you persist? Why are you not over at Chapo or something, working alongside your fellow totalitarians to work out how to enslave the world for ‘the greater good’?

        1. Safer to put everyone in prison.

        2. Cuz so long as he CALLS himself a libertarian, it gives him cover for forcing anyone to do anything he wants if he thinks it protects him.

          Gonna bet he also uses “if it saves one life” a lot.

      5. /quietly tuns gas on.

      6. “…Your health can have effects on the health of others…”

        Fuck off, slaver.
        You’re worried about catching something? Lock yourself in a cave, and please don’t come out. Ever.

        1. And this is the exact point that shows that from a subconscious level many people are flat out totalitarians. If a person is afraid of catching a disease then they are free to stay home. It seems obvious that they want the right to go out but don’t want any chance of interacting with someone who isn’t also paranoid. Instead, they demand that I stay home

          1. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you don’t have Chinese cooties.

      7. Are you butthurt over this ruling? Yes, of course you are, asswipe.

        Go lock yourself in your room forever like the frightened little pussy that you are, and don’t ever come out again if that’s what you want.

        Just don’t tell the rest of us we have to do the same thing, fuck off and die with that bullshit.

      8. Hey chicken little. Life is full of risks. If you dont like the risks, stay the fuck home. Stop mandating I make your life risk free.

    2. That is right, it is your health, so your responsibility, not others, not the states, and not the Federal governments. That means you do what you have too, and I will do what I have to do for my health.

    3. “It’s not public health, it’s my health.”

      In which case, *YOU* take care of it.

      1. There is some degree of government action on health that’s consistent with the NAP, though it doesn’t apply to what government is going in the current situation. If I’m going around breathing my typhoid germs on everyone, that’s just as much initiation of force against them as if I were shooting at them, and a justification of action against me. So, quarantining a known carrier of a dangerous infectious disease doesn’t violate libertarian principles.

        But like I said, current government action doesn’t fall within that. By the previous analogy, what they’re doing now is the equivalent to requiring everyone to wear body armor and stay inside because someone might shoot at them.

        1. ” If I’m going around breathing my typhoid germs on everyone, that’s just as much initiation of force against them as if I were shooting at them,”

          No and only a fucking idiot would think that.

          1. Uh-huh.

            Perhaps you should read and/or chapter 41 of David Friedman’s “Machinery of Freedom”. YMMV, but Friedman and the Cato Institute are generally not considered “fucking idiots” by most libertarians.

        2. Exactly. Quarantines are for SICK people, not HEALTHY people.

          I think it is fine if a person is found sick for them to be quarantined (justly and safely at home), for a serious infectious disease (which I don’t find Wuhan virus to be).

          But to lock down healthy people? It’s madness.

    4. I am making a good salary from home $1500-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year earlier I was jobless in a horrible economy.
      I offer thanks toward God each day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone, Here is website where i started this……….Home Profit System

  2. Regardless of your perspective on the lockdowns, it’s got to be a little concering how little governors care about whether their newly assumed powers are in any way legal.

    1. Even more concerning is how many of their subjects AGREE.

      1. And willing to snitch.

        1. That is the worst part. How many neighbors are willing to turn Stasi at the slightest hint of a few GoodBoyPoints from the authorities.

          1. Here in St. Louis is was a big scandal that all of the Karens that reported people and businesses to the county government ended up getting exposed, because of sunshine laws.


          2. That and, “if I lose my job, nobody else should be able to work either”. Flip side of the “nobody should be more successful than me” coin.

        2. “”And willing to snitch.””

          And just like that, people making fun of Karens, became Karens themselves.

      2. That’s the thing.

        It’s one thing to ban plastic based on specious science….here the specious data led to lockdowns that had immediate real world unintended consequences.

        And people swallowed the fear whole while politicians, hiding behind medical bureaucrats, cowered and made people cower along with them until we ended up in a bizarre bizarro mental state where people believe because they didn’t get a hair cut were heroes like Ann Frank.

        THAT’S what’s troubling.

        1. “here the specious data led to lockdowns that had immediate real world unintended consequences.” I’m becoming convinced that the consequences were not unintended. The media, including Reason, are obsessed with denying Trump a second term. Some openly wished for a recession long before the Coronacircus began. This shit will continue until November and then be quickly forgotten by the press if Trump loses. If Trump wins he’ll be blamed for the depression that will be in full swing. There is no way they will let this crisis go to waste. It will remain a crisis until they achieve their goal.

        2. I wonder what Ann would say about the fear people have for this virus.

          1. ChiRona is literally Hitler

        3. immediate real world unintended consequences.

          I think there is an iron law about that somewhere. The consequences were certainly foreseeable.

    1. gay happy?

    2. The minute you interact with another human being in meat space.

      1. I wonder if he can show us how the sausage is made.

        1. Excellent.

        2. And hidden?

          1. A salami’s a kind of sausage, right?

        3. I have a meat grinder. It’s not quite a woodchipper, but I’m working my way up.

  3. The question before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was not whether these sweeping restrictions were sensible, proportionate, or necessary. It was whether Palm had the legal authority to impose them.

    As it should be. The law should be a matter of what you can or cannot do, not whether or not it’s a good idea. And yet this is how a huge chunk of people think of it, if it’s a good idea to do something then why should the law matter? And then you’re sidetracked into arguing over whether or not something is a good idea rather than simply arguing that it just doesn’t matter, that it’s beside the point. The very worst idea of all is to give somebody the power to decide what is a good idea and that’s the end of that argument.

    1. But too many power-mad despots, and too many sheeple, begin with the assumption that everything is or should be illegal, and then argue about what might be allowed.

      Its almost like the Royalists have been hiding among us since 1776.

    2. Looks like Palm’s big mistake was in not shutting down the courts, so that they couldn’t rule against his tyrannical diktats.
      Here in The People’s Republic of Kalifornia, there are no courts open to which to make a complaint.

      1. No fucking edit button:
        I mean Evers, not Palm.

  4. Can a single executive branch official do whatever she thinks is necessary …, or is she constrained by the limits the legislature has imposed on her authority?

    “Well, since you put it *that* way….”

    1. Unelected bureaucrats should never have that kind of power. County level health commissioners issued the first tremble-in-place orders in San Francisco and the surrounding area! At least the Governor has to face reelection, and many of them are going to learn that they went way too far.

      1. Neither should elected ones. Tyrants come in both elected and unelected flavors, which basically is a difference without a distinction.

  5. “Trublous times”, nice phrase, nice band name, and a marvelous new work I learned today.

    And aside from this one particular case, I do not understand how governors, mayors, or other executives have the legal authority to unilaterally suspend laws, close businesses, and otherwise act like little Mussolinis for a month or two, with apparently unlimited extensions.

    1. I don’t understand why you told us you want to eat your own shit.

      1. All the kewl kids are doing it.

      2. To be sure, it beats eating other people’s shit. Both sides . . .

        1. Except he does that too. He said so.

    2. A month is an emergency. Two months is tyranny. 5 months (like LA County is planning) is willful destruction of careers and businesses.

  6. Please keep following this. A lotta guys might say it’s a BFD whatever way it goes.

  7. Well, despite that ruling, many of our state’s counties and cities are now issuing their own orders to replace the order that was stuck down. What a shit show.

    Politicians can’t help themselves.

    1. Btw, bars are featured prominently as businesses that are reopening in media stories. This is Wisconsin, after all. As would be expected, comments on those are every bit as stupid as one would expect.

      1. Wisconsin was one of the first place that embraced the progressive movement from Germany.

        1. Surprised it wasn’t Minnesota. There’s something to that Lutheran love of collective joy and misery, that makes a peculiar form of scientific socialism popular in that part of the country.

          1. Minnesotans are collectivists, but they’re also very independent (think Jesse Ventura being elected governor). Wisconsin has the real commies.

            1. Madison has always been the San Francisco of Wisconsin

        2. Ope, sorry. There’s been some good shit and bad shit. What can ya do der?

      2. Brandybuck and others here told us everyone was voluntarily complying with the “strong suggestions” of the government. No way they could be wrong.

        1. Except when the first orders came out in California, they pointed out that violating them was a misdemeanor, with fines and jail time to follow if citizens failed to comply.

      3. A buddy of mine actually went from Minnesota to Wisconsin to drink tonight. This lockdown has been pretty hard on him because he’s in IT support, working 12-14 hours a day, and he’s already dealing with mental health issues that he’d normally be getting in-person support for.

        Needless to say, he’s as fed up with this lockdown bullshit as I am.

      4. My understanding is that your rural municipality in Wisconsin doesn’t even count as a town unless it at least has a bar and nearby access to ‘flowage’.

  8. Once again Democrats demonstrating that they have no idea what Rule of Law and Due Process means. Neither do Republicans, of course, but in this case it’s the Democrats whining that the courts won’t let them do whatever they want.

    1. I love how you toss these meaningless rebukes of your fellow travelers out there just so you can point to them when people remind you you’re a fucking prog.

    2. Says the guy who has defended lockdown orders as necessary foe the last 3 months.

  9. OT: Guys, sorry, but I didn’t know where else to turn. I’m looking at the numbers from Worldometers and noticing a trend. Countries with the highest number of cases seem to be ruled by right-wing assholes. If we graph number of COVID-19 cases vs the degree to which that country is ruled by a right-wing fucking asshole do you guys know what the slope is? I mean countries on that list ranking #1, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7 are all ruled by assholes. Assholes of a different flavor to be sure, but all of them really despicable fuckheads. Can you guys help with my statistical analysis of death and misery vs narcissism and right-wing douchebaggery, lies and incompetence? Thanks!

    1. Ahahahaahhaha







      1. This what you believed in January:

        Trump on Twitter said he had a “long and very good” conversation with Mr. Xi, a leader he frequently praises as a tough rival and advocate for the world’s No. 2 economy.

        “He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Nothing is easy, but he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”

        “Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation,” Mr. Trump wrote. “We are working closely with China to help!”

        Later Friday, Mr. Trump told White House reporters he’s satisfied with China’s cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

        “We’re working together,” Mr. Trumpsaid from the South Lawn. “It’s a tough situation, I think they’re doing a very good job,”

        1. So Trump believed the lies until it was shown to be a lie? And what is your point? Because Trump seems to no longer believe the lie but AmSoc keeps believing it.

          1. “So Trump believed the lies until it was shown to be a lie?”

            Not even close. The lying was useful for Trump so he helped perpetuate it.

            1. Ok stupid moron, what the fuck does that have to do with you lying about ME jist because you stupildydly believe China lololololoo

              1. Hahaha that shut you the fuck up lololol

            2. Can you prove he lied? Or is that just your opinion? Maybe he did believe them at first. It seems to have been most world leaders believed them at first. So did they all lie too?

              1. Only the assholes.

          2. And he said I believed it, like I am personally Trump lolololol

            Its sooooo fucking pathetitic how hard he tries lolololol

            1. My larger point is that excuse AmSoc’s stupidity by pointing out Trump first believed China also is a false equivalency. Trump, once evidence was presented of China and the WHO’s stonewalling and underreporting and falsification of records, stopped believing them. He also called them out for their bullshit. AmSoc still believes them and deserves all the ridicule you heap on him.

              1. AmSoc still believes them and deserves all the ridicule you heap on him and then some.

                1. Challenge accepted.

        2. Pretty sure Trump, when given more evidence of China’s duplicity stopped believing their and their lapdog WHO lies.

        3. “This what you believed in January:”

          Not me bitch, stop trying so hard.

        4. Jumped up quick to defend your sock.

        5. This what you believed in January

          Tulpa is Trump? I guess that makes sense.

          1. That would be funny if true.

            1. You got me.

    2. Sure I can help.

      Leftists lie.

      1. Ahahahaahhaha







    3. Why are the highest US deaths in states run by left-wing monsters? I mean states on that list ranking #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 and #9 are all ruled by left-wing statists. Can you help with my statistical analysis of death and misery vs narcissism and left-wing evil?

      1. yours lacks the flair of Worldometers.

        1. It’s from Worldometers!

          1. internet. speechless. lol.

    4. Right wing? Or your definition of right wing? Honoring personal liberty does have some risks, but considering how many more people leftist/socialist have killed, I’ll take that risk.

      1. Anyone to the right of Marx and Engels is considered right-wing by amsoc.

    5. Hey Amsoc when is Georgia going to pay on blood for it’s “premature” ending of the lockdown? Aren’t people supposed to be dying in the streets by now? Or Florida? Or Wyoming? North Dakota? South Dakota?

      1. They all died, and anyone who disputes that (including the zombies still walking around in those states) is a corona-denier.

      2. There’s also some weird reporting things happening in Georgia. Like, on a Sunday, there’s 3 new cases and 0 new deaths. Then the next day it’s 1500 new cases and 115 new deaths. Then 4 days later it’s 2 new cases with zero deaths, followed by 1K new cases the next day. 2 days after that another zero, followed by another big spike the next day.

        If I’m being cynical, I’m thinking that they’re just not reporting every day, so they can toss 2 days worth of data out every so often to make it look like the graph is spiking, whereas if you smoothed the graph out a bit it would be obvious that there’s a general downward trend.

    6. This American socialist guy can’t be real, is he? Has to be a robot simply trying to provoke. No human being could be this disengaged from reality.

      1. Your namesake is right there on Planet Witless with him.

    7. Right wing assholes like Xi Jinping?

    8. ” I mean countries on that list ranking #1, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7 are all ruled by assholes.”

      Are you sure? In deaths per million- the only real measure that should matter- the ranking of countries with more than 100 deaths is:

      Country ———– DPMM ————- Leading party
      1) Belgium — 768 ——– Liberal Reformist Movement
      2) Spain —— 584 ——— Spanish Socialist Workers Party
      3) Italy ——– 519 ———- Independent (compromise between left/right)
      4) UK ——— 495 ———- Conservative
      5) France —– 420 ——– Socialist
      6) Sweden — 349 ——– Social Democrats

      So let’s see here, one Conservative, and one independent appointed by a compromise government, and the rest all socialists.

      Is everything AmSoc says a lie?

      1. No, he is actually a socialist.

      2. What I want to know is how a Merkel-run Germany, laden with the ex-MENA residents responsible for the disease’s rapid spread in Sweden, has kept Germany off the top part of this list?

        1. Well, Germans have experience making bodies go up in smoke.

          1. but they usually keep meticulous records. . .

          2. They taught all subsequent socialist totalitarians that keeping records of your kills isn’t worth the risk of finding yourself on trial in Nuremberg, even if you are a true believer that you can’t be undone.

      3. Didn’t someone recently post something showing if you took downstate NY and made it it’s own country, it was the #1 country in deaths per million? Ruled by assholes indeed.

        1. True, but that’s cherry-picking. Of course New York City is going to have a higher spread of infections because of the population density, in ways it won’t spread in rural Montana or even other big cities like LA and Dallas.

          That’s the very reason that it’s stupid to create nationwide policy based on the issues present in New York. It also makes it a bit more difficult to isolate just how much of the issue is inherent to the city, and how much is based on their bungled response.

          1. True, Minnesotta doesn’t have Subways they refused to Lockdown. They also don’t have rules in place to force Nursing home to accept patients with covid. So yeah, it is cherry picking or something.

          2. It wasn’t a comparison between NYC and other states. NYC is worse than countries that contain cities more dense and populated than NYC.

            “”That’s the very reason that it’s stupid to create nationwide policy based on the issues present in New York.””


      4. Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party? Spazis?

        1. Is ‘spaz’ one of those insults that’s been P.C’d into hate speech like ‘retard’ has been?

          1. Not yet, but they’re working on it.

    9. This repeated assertion by seemingly everyone that has access to the internet that somehow there is a direct correlation between the rates a disease spreads and the political affiliation of whoever their top man happens to be is unbelievably stupid. It really needs to stop. It’s making smart people make some pretty absurd claims and it’s making people like Amsoc……well I guess if he did get any dumber, I’m not sure how we would measure it.

      1. I’m still unsure whether or not Amsoc is a parody/troll account. I don’t know what he’s actually getting out of interacting with this site if he isn’t.

      2. I see your point and you are partially correct, in that there are many other factors involved. Where party affiliation does become relevant is if everyone is basing their decisions on party line, and similar groups under different leadership making opposite decisions yield a different and fairly uniform outcome. Probability that party affiliation is irrelevant becomes much harder to argument to make.

    10. I know you’re an illiberal, illiterate ignoramus but #5 Italy is run by a LEFT-WING coalition as is #3 Spain (Socialist Worker’s Party) and Macron in charge of France (at #7).


      Go. Fuck. Yourself.

    11. American Socialist
      May.14.2020 at 4:10 pm
      “OT: Guys, sorry, but I didn’t know where else to turn…”

      You came to the wrong place. Fuck off and die.

    12. Now track the death rates for the states that reopen in May and those that wait until September. The results might not be what you think.

    13. … and off the racist scurries.

  10. I live in Wisconsin. I agree with the ruling, but it is the same old partisan divide that has been going on here for years now. I don’t expect it to change or get better. Eventually the other party always comes to power, and the same game starts all over again, just a different winner and loser.

    1. It is always the same until it isn’t. Bug enough fuckups generally convince people it’s time to change. Then the grow complacent again.

    2. In Toronto, there was a park the Mayor closed (I forget the name) with cops and road blocks and all, where the cherry orchids blossom. After a massive push back, the pant shitting piece of shit re-opened it.

      Think of it. They shut down a park people just like to go watch a tree blossom.

      Anyway, Rebel Media (who are on fire these days) interviewed a woman about what she thought. As she said, ‘they did the right thing (closing it)’ she walked right into the park.

      I swear I can’t even keep up with the ‘hypcuntrisy’ of it all.

    3. I also live in Wisconsin and this is different. The Republican have lost 5 state wide election in the last two years and have developed a scorched earth policy. They did not work with Governor Evers they just run to the State Supreme Court which will sign off on any Republican lawsuit. This ruling left left Wisconsin businesses with no plan or guidance. Many want to open but also want the people to feel comfortable and this ruling doesn’t do that. Republican and Democrats will always fight over issues, but this is deeper and more sinister.

  11. Not quite on topic but relevant. Seems that Ms. Palm shares common attributes with Barbara Ferrer, PhD, the Los Angeles County CA Health Officer. Both issue draconian lock down orders having no basis in science. Neither is an M.D. or a PhD in a medical field but both have “Social Justice Warrior” degrees. When this is over, we need to clean house at local governments.

    1. Dr. Bhattacharyra pretty much sees it this way as well.

      1. Sorry. Misread you initial post. He doesn’t agree with them.

        1. Not that he explicitly says it but from what I can discern from his interviews, he’s more likely to conclude the lockdowns right now are counter-productive.

  12. >>Palm … has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate

    overreach while the dream’s still possible.

    1. So she’s been impersonating a state health officer. No wonder she didn’t want to file the fiscal impact statements with the legislature.

  13. it appears lot of folks who missed science day at school also missed constitution day. fortunately the courts usually correct them in their silly affronts to liberty. unfortunately they require court orders to be brought to heel and still never see the error of their ways

    1. the courts usually correct them in their silly affronts to liberty

      You need to read:
      The Dirty Dozen
      How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom
      By Robert A. Levy and William Mello

    2. fortunately the courts usually correct them in their silly affronts to liberty.

      Your citation fell off.

  14. I am glad sanity is finally prevailing when it comes to bureaucrats running roughshod over our rights. When you make a sick person stay home, that’s called quarantine. When you make a healthy person stay home, that’s house arrest – and a violation of the 5th Amendemnt.

  15. Good. Fuck the Democrats and their power mad schemes. They have set themselves up for failure in November.

  16. Another Wisconsin resident here. I wish that they had ruled earlier, but I’m happy with this outcome. I’ve said multiple times, it’s one thing to quarantine me because I’m sick. It’s an entirely different matter to sentence me to house arrest just because I might possibly pick up something somewhere and maybe pass it along.

    There’s a bigger issue here however. The law the Palm claimed authority under actually does grant her office extraordinary power. Similar laws are now being used throughout Wisconsin by un-elected county health officials to impose county or city restrictions. Challenging them one-by-one in the courts will take years.

    It’s time for the legislature to look at these laws, realize how poorly written they were, and CHANGE them. Covid-19 is likely going to surge again. If not, something else will eventually come along. Change the laws NOW so that we aren’t subject to un-elected dictators the next time around.

    1. It isn’t just Wisconsin.
      Petty tyrant “public health” officials, nationwide are exerting authority no one really knew they had, because of an “emergency”, the likes of which have, in the past, have had nothing close to the overreaction we have seen to this media-created-to-get-Trump, CHINESE PANᵈᵉᵐIC.

  17. Oh look, I was right again! I was one of a VERY small number of people here who was seriously questioning whether universal martial law without due process was legally permissible. Looks like the Wisconsin court has said “Not just no, but HELL no, that’s enough. It’s over.”

    It’s more than a little sad that this very small group of us included pretty much none of the Reason contributors. In fact, many of them took the exact OPPOSITE position and essentially pulled a Reverend Kirkland and said “Just shut up and do your what betters (us) tell you to do, bitter clingers.”

    1. Was it really that small of a number, or are you overcounting the cowards due to the endless stream of socks they knit?

      1. They get overcounted like suspected Covid-19 patients who also have stage 4 cancer and were hit by a bus on their way to the hospital.

    2. Took long enough didn’t it? I was introduced to this site (via Volokh) the day the Golden State Warriors cancelled a game because the mayor of SF banned groups of over 1,000. It had been 18 years since I took Civics, but I thought the Constitution allowed people to assemble and searched for an answer. Ever since, I’ve been stunned at how much the governors have gotten away with (and frightened by how many of my “friends” were cheering them on).

      1. All a governor has to do is close down the courts, and there is no one in a position to stop whatever they manage to get the media to back them on.
        Wisconsin’s governor obviously didn’t think this through enough to take that step.

    3. “…I was one of a VERY small number of people here who was seriously questioning whether universal martial law without due process was legally permissible…”


      1. Yes indeed, you and a couple of other commenters were in the group also!

  18. It’s all just kabuki theater now. I went to an eye appointment. They reminded me twice to wear a mask. So I wore a n95 mask, properly fitted. They said it wouldn’t fit in the testing machines, and gave me a paper mask. That didn’t filter the air in any way, and had huge gaps on the sides and bridge of the nose. So, I have concluded that we are all just playing make believe, or that masks have acquired a totemic power they don’t really possess.

    1. masks have acquired a totemic power they don’t really possess.

      Don’t they (at least in some jurisdictions) really possess the power to ward off fines and imprisonment?

    2. It’s pandemic theater, just like the 6-foot-magic-spacing.

    3. It’s to keep your spit in not to keep the virus out.

    4. Dude, the second people started wearing them in the car…alone….you knew it was all kabuki theatre.

      I try not to judge too much because who knows what health issues people have, but boy can I spot the pant shitters. They’re so obvious.

      1. No. It became apparent that it was Kabuki theater when those in power, after telling us all how we had to act to “save lives”, went right ahead and violated those same restrictions for themselves and their families.
        If this was such an existential threat, they would be taking extra precautions, like they do with gun-toting security, while telling us that we don’t need guns for our security. Instead they do what we have been told is us murdering people.

  19. Not only are the lockdowns illegal, they are bad policy. Most Americans are glad to be careful with their own health and considerate of the health of others. Absent a few mindless college kids on the beaches, distancing, washing hands, and even wearing masks have been embraced by millions as ‘the least they can do’ to help themselves and others. The problem is that making this mandatory under pain of fine or imprisonment chafes most people and provokes some to do foolish things. A government information/propaganda campaign to promote healthy practices could have been very successful. Can you imagine the humorous ways this could have been communicated with cats, dogs, and birds in masks, etc? Public warning signs in every bar and restaurant could be reminders. Instead we got the heavy hand of authoritarianism. FOOLS!

    1. It’s not just that they made their usual nannying a crime if you disobeyed, it’s that they closed down businesses (forcing many into bankruptcy) and stopped people from working (poverty, homelessness and hunger are also bad for your health.)

      And staying inside and avoiding people is bad for your immune system. They’re almost guaranteeing that the second wave will be worse than if people continued to live normally and develop population immunity like in every previous pandemic.

      1. Yup.

        A colossal clusterfuck for all time they unleashed.

        And the motherfuckers along with those who supported it will never have to face a second of shame or loss of employment for being so spectacularly stupid and gullible.

        I still can’t wrap my head around them shutting it down and CONTINUE to keep it shut. Everything should open. Take our medicine and mover forward.

        The lockdown failed in terms of the trade-offs.

    2. Not in my state. A few blue states are getting all the attention but the rest of us are fine.

  20. We should take the win. It’s very rare when judges simply interpret the law as written and hand down the obvious ruling.

    I’d love to see that fiscal impact statement. “We’re putting 40 percent of people out of work for 3 months, so income taxes are down eleventy billion dollars. And we’re putting 70% of the businesses out of business permanently, so sales taxes are down another gazillion billion dollars. And we’re adding to the social services budget, but the federales will cover that. And we’re losing a million dollars per student per day the schools aren’t open”.


    Mexican cartels distributing food and supplies to poor Mexicans

    Congrats Democrats, you’re now officially the most reviled group in the Western Hemisphere.

    1. “Congrats Democrats, you’re now officially the most reviled group in the Western Hemisphere.”

      Let’s hope the vast majority of voters see it that way, too, come the next few elections.

  22. Madame Chief Justice, with all due respect, that Trump wig isn’t fooling anybody.

  23. The tyranny has not ended, it has just transferred to some county governments who immediately claimed legal authority and reinstated the safer at home orders. The good thing is not every county did this and more people are pushing back and not complying.

  24. Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors.

  25. So many government officials are shocked when told that it does not matter if you think it is a good idea if you do not possess the authority to do it.

    1. Like everything the federal government does.

  26. “The question before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was not whether these sweeping restrictions were sensible, proportionate, or necessary. It was whether Palm had the legal authority to impose them.”

    Yeah, believe it or not, that’s exactly what the court is supposed to do. They don’t have the authority to decide which laws are “necessary.”

    1. Having to describe the proper scope of work of the judiciary as if it was an alien notion is rather depressing.

  27. So the constitution is not suspended in WI?

  28. thanks for sharing the information

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