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Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down mask mandate

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File photo/MGN online

MADISON, Wis. (WKOW) --The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers' statewide mask mandate, ruling that the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by issuing the order.

The 4-3 ruling Wednesday by the conservative-controlled court is the latest legal blow to attempts by Evers to control the coronavirus.

The court ruled that any public health emergency issued by Evers is valid for just 60 days and can't be extended without approval of the Legislature.

Nearly 60 organizations, including groups representing hospitals, doctors and nurses, had opposed striking down the mandate.

In a statement shortly after the decision, Evers did not offer any comment on the decision itself, but rather urged Wisconsinites to continue wearing masks.

"Our fight against COVID-19 isn’t over—while we work to get folks vaccinated as quickly as we can, we know wearing a mask saves lives, and we still need Wisconsinites to mask up so we can beat this virus and bounce back from this pandemic," Evers said in the statement.

State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) released a statement Wednesday morning shortly after the decision came down, crediting the court for blocking what state Republicans have called abuse of power.

"The Governor’s repeated abuse of emergency powers and pervasive violation of state statute created a state of chaos and had to be stopped. The Legislature exercised its authority to revoke Governor Evers’ order in February, and today the Court handed down the final rebuke of the Governor’s illegal actions," LeMahieu said in the statement.

State Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) also released a statement Wednesday morning, saying the court's decision puts citizens' safety at risk.

"The majority’s decision pretends that a pandemic is unchanging and ignores the devastating human impact of COVID-19. And it ensures that Wisconsin’s response to future pandemics will be more complicated and take more time, which in turn will cost more lives," Hintz said in the statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Peter Culver

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