'Safer at Home' questions, challenges persist as Wisconsin awaits court ruling

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to decide the future of "Safer at Home."

The court has a number of options. It could uphold the order, block it or give the Department of Health Services a chance to replace it. Justices met Tuesday, May 5 and are now writing their opinions and possible dissents in the case. It comes amid new challenges for the "Safer at Home" order.

New ads up in Wisconsin question the extended order. Former Republican Senate Candidate Eric Hovde urged the reopening of the state. Republican Assembly leaders argued for a "targeted and regional way to safely reopen businesses; it doesn't make sense to treat Superior the same as Milwaukee."

Wisconsin Supreme Court

But in oral arguments Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Colin Roth argued against that.

"A virus like this that doesn't respect county boundaries. This started out predominately in Madison and Milwaukee. And we just had this outbreak in Brown County in the meat-packing plants. This is after 'Safer at Home,'" he said.

Pat Roggensack

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, though, said: "These were due to the meatpacking, though, that's where Brown County got the flare. It wasn't the regular folks in Brown County."

To which Roth rebutted:

"I understand that your honor, but the point I'm trying to make is that these flare-ups, when 'Safer at Home' is steadily lifted in stages, are going to happen all across the state," Roth said. "They are going to happen very quickly.

Colin Roth

"It's a wildfire. It's smoldering. but a gust of wind is going to fan the flames and it's going to explode again."

Critics of the order point to the struggling economy as a primary reason to reopen the state. New numbers show Wisconsin saw an $870 million drop in tax revenue in April compared to April of 2019.