Residents Challenges Wisconsin’s Stay-At-Home Order In Court

(FamilyRetirementClub.Com)- Two Wisconsin residents believe their state’s stay-at-home order is unconstitutional, and they are challenging it in court.
The residents believe that the “Safer at Home” order issued by Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, prioritizes shopping over political and religious expression.
The executive order in question bans gatherings in private or public of more than 10 people. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including shopping. Religious gatherings are grouped in with those events that are banned.
The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Charles Cooper, says this detail limits religious and political expression of Wisconsin residents, both of which are protected by the Constitution. He said:
“The point isn’t that the state doesn’t have a compelling interest in addressing this health care crisis. We concede and recognize that. The point is that the state can’t single out or discriminate against and disadvantage individuals who seek to leave their homes for these constitutionally-protected purposes.”
One of the plaintiffs, Jere Fabik, said:
“The state has clearly gone too far, needlessly infringing our most basic constitutional liberties to an extent that is without precedent and that would have been virtually unimaginable in a free society just two months ago.”
The lawsuit argues that the restrictions in Wisconsin have “needlessly trampled on the rights of residents.” It also does acknowledge the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic, though, and says the restrictions were put into place in good faith.
The issue the plaintiffs have is that the executive order singles out religious gatherings by name. And while trips to the grocery store and other essential places are allowed as long as social distancing is practiced, other non-essential travel and political demonstrations are banned.
The plaintiffs argue that religious observers have been denied the ability to enact similar social-distancing measures that would allow them to practice their religion. Instead, Evers issued a blanket ban on it altogether.
As Cooper said:
“The petitioners we represent are entirely willing to abide by general masking and social distancing protocols that the state has put in place for other types of groupings.”
Cooper believes the Justice Department has said it will support legal challenges to states’ stay-at-home orders if they are overly stringent.
As Attorney General William Barr wrote in a memo issued this month:
“I am directing each of our United States Attorneys to also be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens. If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”
Some similar legal challenges have worked, while others haven’t. One in Kansas was successful, while one in California was not.
The point could soon be moot, though, as states around the country begin to re-open their economies and, therefore, their normal lives.