The same Republican lawmakers who forced Wisconsin residents to choose between exercising their right to vote and risking their lives is now mounting an effort to sacrifice more lives for the sake of the economy. On Tuesday, the GOP-led legislature sued state health officials to reopen the state for business and block an extension of statewide stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus.
"The lawsuit was filed against Wisconsin's Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and other health officials, who recently extended the state's 'Safer at Home' emergency order until May 26, but loosened some restrictions on certain businesses," writes CNN.
The lawsuit specifically argues that the "state will be in shambles" as a result of lost jobs and shuttered companies due to the social distancing measures designed to slow the rate of coronavirus infections. The suit claims the statewide “Safer at Home” order is unlawful and further called it "arbitrary and capricious" for distinguishing between "essential" and "nonessential" businesses. The legislature claimed standing to bring the suit by saying it had been "irreparably harmed" by the order interfering with its ability to provide oversight.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers skewered the lawsuit as a GOP power play to exploit the pandemic "to further their attempts to undermine the will of the people." Evers charged Republicans with wanting to force state officials to "jump through hoop after hoop" instead of responding with the urgency necessary to save lives.
"Folks, we don't have time. COVID-19 will not wait," Evers tweeted.
A small contingent of fewer than a hundred anti-social distancing protesters showed up at the state's capital over the weekend, part of a bigger effort by well-funded conservative groups trying to stoke discontent. That same network of flush conservative groups has also dispatched lawyers across the country to file lawsuits against the stay-at-home orders. Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr also threatened to bring lawsuits against governors trying to save lives.
On Monday, Evers presented a plan for reopening that includes an expansion in both testing and tracing and demonstrable "downward trajectory" in COVID-19 cases over a two-week period.