By Kylee Zempel
After an unelected public health bureaucrat in Dane County, Wisconsin, issued a sweeping and unscientific mandate on Tuesday requiring indoor masking for everyone, including vaccinated people and even toddlers as young as two, one Wisconsin legal group is taking the fight once again to the state Supreme Court.
On behalf of a county resident, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has filed an original action with the state’s high court urging the justices to review whether Janel Heinrich, the health officer, has the authority to issue a new county-wide mask mandate.
According to the court’s recent COVID-related rulings, some of which are against this very bureaucrat, she does not. Back in June, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in James v. Heinrich that local health officers’ power is limited and must be bestowed specifically by legislators.
The state Supreme Court has struck down COVID-related overreaches in at least five cases, such as when Democrat Gov. Tony Evers tried to shut down elections and issue stay-at-home orders. When it became clear the governor didn’t have unilateral authority over his constituents’ coronavirus response, unelected state and local officials stepped in to try imposing their will without legislative backing. The state’s high court has also struck down those attempts.
“Here we go again,” WILL’s deputy counsel Dan Lennington told The Federalist. “Local officials are trying to take legislative power and write their own laws, and require citizens to do things that the local official has no power to do.”
“The courts have made clear that unelected public health officers do not have unlimited authority,” Lennington said. “Yet again, on the eve of a new school year, Dane County has issued a breathtakingly bold order. Last time they tried to close all schools, this time they are requiring universal masking for anyone in an enclosed space, including two-year olds. Next time it could be vaccine passports. Dane County’s health officer, simply put, doesn’t have the power to order universal masking, or anything else, without express legal authority.”
Does Anyone Care About the Numbers?
Not only do court precedent and the law condemn Heinrich’s diktats; common sense does too. One look at the data shows nobody is dying of the Wuhan virus in Dane County, which houses the state’s capital city of Madison. The line depicting average weekly COVID-19 deaths is steady at zero. The seven-day average has been zero deaths since the middle of May, when that average was a single death.
The last time the weekly average was higher than one was before Valentine’s Day. And in the last two weeks, only one death has been attributed to coronavirus in this county of more than half a million people, with statewide deaths down 34 percent in the same timeframe.
For these reasons and more — for example, the side effects of pandemic mitigation such as a rapidly growing mental health crisis, a massive surge in drug overdoses, and a catastrophic blow to the education of children —WILL’s legal action is a welcomed development, and Lennington said he’s “very hopeful that the supreme court will take this.” For healthy yet helpless residents of deep-blue Madison who are weary of getting the rug pulled out from under them, court action would help them reclaim that liberty and sanity.
Wisconsinites Need More Than a Court Win
But as Wisconsinites and Americans at large know, this fight is bigger than the courtroom. Usually, when Americans sit by and expect courts to step in and mitigate some of their most pressing concerns, they’re left with “blessing of liberty” like Drag Queen Story Hour and the American Civil Liberties Union gearing up to take a gentle grandmother florist for everything she owns.
A WILL victory would be a welcomed win for healthy Dane County residents, but for how long? The Wisconsin Supreme Court has already signaled that bureaucratic overreach is unacceptable, but that hasn’t stopped power-hungry officials from pushing the limits and issuing sweeping and invasive orders anyway.
On the flip side, if the court doesn’t respond positively to WILL’s lawsuit, we’re right back to a masked-up square one, with health elites even more emboldened and healthy citizens once again completely helpless. To that end, it isn’t simply WILL’s responsibility to protect our liberties. It’s our duty too — and the stakes are high.
Live Free. Refuse Irrational Diktats
Wisconsinites must refuse to play into the political games of the ruling class by masking up, as the scientific and empirical evidence is stacked against their decrees. Don’t believe the lie that mandatory masking is a “minor inconvenience.” In a county where nobody is dying of COVID, complying with masks is much more than that: It’s a visible sign of allegiance to sadistic elites and their power-drunk delusions.