(FiveNation.com)- The state Supreme Court in Wisconsin has decided to hear a case that is challenging the power that public health managers in Dane County are trying to exert.
Earlier this week, the state’s highest court agreed it would hear a case that’s bringing into question whether the director of public health in Madison and Dane counties can issue their own mask mandate without approval from above.
The challenge to the power was brought forth by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Luke Berg, of the WILL, says that the health department in Dane County is acting beyond the limits it has from the state constitution — once again.
As he recently said:
“This case presents the Court with an opportunity to clarify that local health officers cannot unilaterally issue orders that restrict daily life without approval from a legislative body. The Dane County Board cannot pass the buck and allow an unelected health officer to issue whatever orders she sees fit.”
This isn’t the first time that the organization has filed a challenge to orders given by the PHMDC.
In June, WILL won a case that ended up all the way to the state Supreme Court. In that case, the high court ruled that the public health director in Dane County didn’t possess any power to close schools in the county on her own.
That case started because the PHMDC issued a directive in August of 2020 that closed all schools in the country over the COVID-19 pandemic. The head of the public health office said she issued that directive because having kids in school would put them at risk.
Naturally, the health director, Janel Heinrich, wasn’t happy with the decision. In a statement after it was handed down, she said:
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that local health officers cannot close schools within their jurisdictions. We are extremely disappointed in the court’s decision, which has much further reaching implications than just this current pandemic. This decision hinders the ability of local health officers in Wisconsin to prevent and contain public health threats for decades to come.”
At the time of that case, one of the Supreme Court Justices, Rebecca Bradley, wrote:
“The power to take measures ‘reasonable and necessary’ cannot be reasonably read as an open-ended grant of authority. If Heinrich’s argument were correct, then the general provision would essentially afford local health officers any powers necessary to limit the spread of communicable diseases. This cannot be. What is reasonable and necessary cannot be reasonably read to encompass anything and everything.”
WILL had argued in that case that the PHMDC was overstepping the powers it had when it unilaterally closed all public and private schools in the state. The organization’s argument was that it infringed on the rights that parents have to make decisions about the education of their children.
WILL is now hoping that the state Supreme Court will again find in its favor. A date for this new court case hasn’t been set just yet.