WILL challenges new Dane County mask mandate

Citing a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that says public health officers do not have unlimited authority, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to issue an injunction against Dane County’s new indoor mask requirement, which takes effect today and would remain in place until at least Sept. 16.

In filing its challenge to the mandate, which was announced Tuesday, the conservative legal group not only states that the power of a local public health officer is limited as determined in James v. Heinrich, it must be specifically conferred by a legislative body. “The courts have made clear that unelected public health officers do not have unlimited authority,” says WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington. “Dane County’s health officer, simply put, doesn’t have the power to order universal masking, or anything else, without express legal authority.”

WILL says it is challenging the new order on behalf of a Dane County citizen, Sun Prairie resident Bryant Stempski. The action asks the court to issue an injunction, review the authority of the Dane County public health officer to issue a county-wide mask mandate, and determine whether the mask mandate constitutes an unlawful delegation of legislative power to an executive official.