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Wisconsin Court Ruling: Partisan Politics vs. Health Of Citizenry

May 14, 2020

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruling was not unexpected.

On Wednesday the court rejected the extension of a stay-at-home order by Governor Evers.  The conservative-leaning court agreed with Republicans who had brought the case.  It was a very sad spectacle to see play out as the nation also witnessed how our highest court could not place judicial reasoning and medical data ahead of partisanship.  No, the ruling was not unexpected, given the make-up of the court.   But it was most dangerous and unseemly.

The conservatives on the court can cloak themselves in all the high use of legal parlance they desire.  But there is no rational explanation for the ruling other than crass politics. The lack of mature leadership from the court now allows for chaos to ensue.

There is little reason to believe the Republican-controlled legislature will have any more desire to sit down with a Democratic governor than they did weeks ago.  While Evers and his administration have been using data from the state to fashion how the economy will again re-open with the safety of citizens in mind, the GOP has yet to offer any plans about how the state moves forward.

There will now be a hodge-podge of behavior.  A county might allow for certain businesses to open while a neighboring one might very well have different rules in place.  The strategies for keeping the virus on a downward trajectory in the state will be severely tested with such a mess.  With too many people ready to abandon common-sense and medical advice the entire state is now at risk.

Those who read and follow the news reports know scientists are most worried about racing towards re-opening businesses too quickly, without a series of needed steps and procedures in place to ensure health safety.  Couple that with what experts predict will be a dreaded second wave of COVID-19 later this year, along with what the medical community fears regarding the timing of flu season and the plotting is all completed for the next Robin Cook blockbuster.

I have been truly surprised and most disheartened over the past months how a pandemic could become tribal and divide the nation based on political leanings.  The bickering and back-biting from the state legislature, at a time when they all needed to roll their sleeves up and ante-up for the state, was not something I would have predicted.  Most folks in the state are deeply concerned about the virus and want mature leadership.  What they have witnessed leaves them more nervous and unsure than ever.

The local bartender will pour drinks and malls will open their doors. But the court system who made the ruling did their jobs in the safest manner possible—through virtual communications.  That fact tells us not only about the severity of the virus but that partisanship has taken a firm hold of the highest court in our state.  Even when the health and well-being of residents are at stake partisan considerations triumph.

We all want to have an economy that is open and robust.  But it needs to be done with data-driven policy and medical advice at every turn.  What would be an absolutely unforgivable disaster is for our state to have stayed home, abided by the rules, closed down businesses, cratered the bank accounts of many workers only to now spike the virus in places far and wide across Wisconsin due to the most base of partisan reasoning.

That scenario is the one that many are fearing tonight based on today’s partisan court ruling.

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