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Lawsuits & Litigation

Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin Under Fire in Two Lawsuits Over COVID-19 Response

— October 6, 2020

Governor Tony Evers is under fire in two lawsuits over his handling of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Another governor is in legal trouble over their COVID-19 response. Recently, Governor Tony Evers found himself facing down two lawsuits over his handling of COVID-19. One of the lawsuits was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) back in August in an effort to “overturn an emergency order that enacted a statewide mask requirement in July.” The second lawsuit was filed by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce last week to try and stop a “list of Wisconsin businesses being investigated for COVID-19 cases from being released.”

Seal of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Seal of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; image courtesy of Federal government of the United States via Wikimedia Commons,


When commenting on the case filed by WILL, the organization’s Deputy Counsel, Anthony LoCoco, said the lawsuit against Evers “is not an argument of whether COVID-19 presents a public health challenge, or the measures Wisconsin should take to respond to the virus…What this case is about is who decides how to respond to an emergency in Wisconsin and under what procedures…The statutes at issue clearly don’t permit this. There’s a hard 60-day time limit on the declaration of a state of emergency without exceptions for whether the emergency gets better or worse.”

Wisconsin Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Colin Hector pushed back against that particular suit and said:

“Whether the surge of COVID-19 cases in September 2020 is looked at as a new condition, a changing condition, or a recurrent of extraordinarily high viral transmission rates, it falls squarely under that definition.”

In a press conference earlier this month, Evers said:

“There are plenty of Republicans on the record saying that masks are, they’re against requiring people or asking people to wear masks. There’s nothing new in that world. I’ll be glad to work with them if they’ve changed their mind. I don’t think they have.”

In the case filed by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, attorney Ryan Walsh said that releasing a list of the businesses being investigated for COVID-19, which dates back to May, would be an “infringement on medical privacy and could potentially damage a business’ reputation.” Walsh added:

“Not only are these cases not traceable to the businesses, necessarily, but even if they are traceable to the businesses they’re not traceable to the businesses based on recent data.”

When commenting on that suit, Evers said:

“We’re trying to obey the law. We have a freedom of information request for information and we aren’t going to be putting these lists of businesses on our website.”

It should be noted that businesses with fewer than 25 employees would not be included on the list.


Evers facing two lawsuits related to the state’s handling of pandemic


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