Conservative-leaning court sides with GOP-controlled Legislature.
Wisconsin’s conservative-leaning court took a mere two hours to rule against the governor’s last-minute attempt to suspend Tuesday’s election, voting 4-2 to block Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order.
Daniel Kelley, a conservative judge and candidate on Tuesday’s ballot, recused himself from the vote. The one-page decision issued by the court did not provide any reasons for the decision.
If the court had sided with Evers, the election would have been suspended until June 9 date or another date determined by the Legislature. His executive order also called for the Legislature to convene at 2 p.m. Tuesday to determine that date.
“We agree with the state Supreme Court’s ruling that affirms the separation of powers spelled out in our Constitution,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester in a joint statement. “The state’s highest court has spoken: the governor can’t unilaterally move the date of the election.”
Evers had told reporters during a conference call earlier Tuesday that he would not appeal the decision.
“This is it. There is no Plan B. There is no Plan C,” Evers told reporters. “We believe this Supreme Court will support us on this.”
The Wisconsin Election Commission will meet later Tuesday night to discuss the decision and determine what, if any, actions need to be taken prior to the election.
Evers said he had the authority to issue the order based on worsening conditions associated with the spread of the coronavirus and his constitutional duty to “insure domestic tranquility and promote general welfare, and, as governor, I made an oath to uphold the Wisconsin Constitution.”
Evers based his decision to issue the order on public health concerns and the inability of the Legislature, which seldom agrees with him or works collaboratively with him, to solve this issue. Evers called Friday for a special session of the Legislature.
When Monday morning came and went without lawmakers meeting, Evers said he took action.
In his order, Evers cites events leading up to his decision, including declaring a public health emergency on March 12 in Wisconsin; President Donald Trump’s proclamation a day later declaring a national emergency due to COVID 19, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to delay jury trials until May 22.
Evers said the consolidation of polling locations due to the fear among poll workers that they could be exposed to the virus if they interacted with the public on Election Day played a big factor in his decision as well.
His order states the city of Waukesha has consolidated its polling locations from 15 to one, the city of Milwaukee has consolidated its polling locations from 182 to five locations – a loss of over 97 percent of its polling locations – and the city of Green Bay has consolidated its polling locations from 31 to 2 locations.
Consolidation to that level would make social distancing extremely difficult, said state Department of Health Services Sec. Andrea Palm.
“In-person voting (Tuesday) would, without question, increase the spread of COVID-19,” Palm said.
To date, 77 people have died because of the coronavirus and 2,440 have tested positive in Wisconsin, according to DHS data.
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