Becker v. Dane County

Case Name: Becker v. Dane County

Type of Case: Non-delegation, health department restrictions

Court: Wisconsin Supreme Court

Case Number: 

Filed On: January 20, 2021

Current Status: Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a motion to bypass on December 20, 2021.

Press Releases

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TO HEAR WILL CHALLENGE TO DANE COUNTY HEALTH ORDERS

December 20, 2021 | The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a motion to bypass in Becker v. Dane County, meaning the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear and decide the case brought by two Dane County residents and a Dane County business challenging the authority of the county health officer to issue sweeping orders without approval by the Dane County Board.

DANE COUNTY DROPS MOST FINES AGAINST DANCE STUDIO

March 1, 2021 | Dane County attorneys, on behalf of Public Health Madison and Dane County, have significantly reduced the fines they are seeking from A Leap Above dance studio in Oregon, Wisconsin. WILL is representing A Leap Above after the health department fined the dance studio for what it misleadingly characterized as a “performance” of the Nutcracker on December 13, 2020.

DANE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT RELAXES SPORTS RESTRICTIONS AFTER WILL LAWSUIT

February 8, 2021 | Public Health Madison and Dane County, the local health department, issued a new health order on Monday that relaxes a number of sports-related restrictions WILL had challenged in a lawsuit filed in January.

WILL FILES LAWSUIT CHALLENGING DANE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT’S AUTHORITY TO ENACT COVID RESTRICTIONS

January 20, 2021 | The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, on behalf of two Dane County residents, challenging the Dane County health department’s legal authority to issue sweeping restrictions on all aspects of life in Dane County.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, on behalf of two Dane County residents, challenging the Dane County health department’s legal authority to issue sweeping restrictions on all aspects of life in Dane County. This lawsuit is substantially similar to an original action WILL filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in November 2020. The Court voted not to grant WILL’s original action, 4-3, without addressing the merits of the case, but four Justices indicated the claims had substantial merit.

Background

WILL filed an original action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in November 2020 challenging Emergency Order #10, an order issued by Dane County’s health department, as an overreach of the legal authority granted to local health officers and an unlawful delegation of authority from local elected bodies. In particular, WILL argued the new restrictions were not voted on by the Dane County Board.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court did not grant WILL’s original action on a 4-3 vote in December. Justice Hagedorn, who concurred in the denial, agreed with the dissenters that the petition presented “important statutory and constitutional questions that deserve judicial scrutiny,” but concluded that the case should begin in circuit court.

Public Health Madison and Dane County continued to issue new health orders that WILL challenged with a lawsuit filed in Dane County Circuit Court in January 2021. 

Becker v. Dane County seeks to ensure a court address the merits of WILL’s challenge to the legal authority of the Dane County health department. WILL argues the orders from Dane County’s health department constitute an unlawful delegation of authority from local elected bodies. In particular, WILL argues the various restrictions ought to have been voted on by the Dane County Board.

The Dane County Circuit Court ruled in summer 2020 in favor of the health department. WILL appealed and filed a petition to bypass to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Court granted that petition on December 20.

Current Status: Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a motion to bypass on December 20, 2021. Oral arguments will be scheduled at a later date.

CASE DOCUMENTS