Letter to the editor: We can’t send out-of-work people into jaws of pandemic

By DON FOY | La Farge

Does anyone really need to point out the irony (to put it kindly) of the Wisconsin Supreme Court electronically hearing arguments and issuing a ruling to kill Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order? The justices who voted to overturn the order — Roggensack, Rebecca Bradley, Kelly and Ziegler — “stayed at home,” or at least someplace safe, to do their work. In essence, they said, “We’re going to be careful about this pandemic, but we don’t care if you guys are at risk. It’s ‘tyranny’ (Justice Rebecca Bradley’s word) if the state tries to keep you safe.” Twisted right-wing thinking.

The Republican Legislature in April sued the Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS), and its head, Andrea Palm, claiming that Palm and the DHS “overreached” by issuing the order. However, the law that empowers DHS says it “may close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics.” Overreach?

Justices Anne Walsh Bradley and Dallet were joined by conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn in dissent. Justice Hagedorn, though conservative, admirably hewed not to party line, but to what he saw as the logic of the matter. He said, “The Legislature may have buyer’s remorse for the breadth of discretion it gave to [DHS], but those are the laws it drafted …We are allowing the Legislature to argue its own laws are unconstitutional.”

Sure, people are suffering by being out of work, but we can’t fix that by sending them into the jaws of a pandemic.

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