Stempski v. Heinrich

Case Name: Stempski v. Heinrich

Type of Case: Rule of Law, Non-Delegation

Court: Wisconsin Supreme Court

Filed On: August 18, 2021

Current Status: Petition for original action was denied by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on August 27, 2021.

Press Releases

WILL Asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to Strike Down Dane County Universal Mask Order

August 18, 2021 | WILL filed an original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court urging a review of the authority of the Dane County public health officer to issue a new county-wide mask mandate.

The Original Action: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court urging a review of the authority of the Dane County public health officer to issue a new county-wide mask mandate. The Wisconsin Supreme Court made clear in June that the powers of a local public health officer are limited and must be specifically conferred by a legislative body.

Background: Public Health Madison and Dane County, the Dane County health department, issued a new indoor county-wide mask mandate on August 17, for all individuals aged 2 and above. The new order will go into effect on August 19 and remain in place until at least September 16.

WILL is challenging the new order, on behalf of a Dane County resident. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decision in James v. Heinrich (issued just sixty days ago) made clear that the powers of local public health officers are not unlimited and must be specifically conferred by a legislative body. Wisconsin law only confers a “series of discrete powers” upon health officials, and if the power is not “specifically conferred,” then “that power is not authorized.” In James, a majority on the Court made clear that Dane County public health officer, Janel Heinrich, violated the law when she ordered all Dane County schools closed in the fall of 2020.

This original action asks the Court to issue an injunction and review the authority of the Dane County public health officer to issue a county-wide mask mandate and whether the mask mandate constitutes an unlawful delegation of legislative power to an executive official.

 

Current Status: WILL’s petition for original action was denied by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on August 27, 2021.

 

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

rick@will-law.org

Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

dan@will-law.org

Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

lucas@will-law.org