DA’s office won’t prosecute violations of new emergency order
Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger said Wednesday his office cannot prosecute any referrals related to Gov. Tony Evers’ administration’s Emergency Order #3.
The order, which could face legal challenges from Republican lawmakers, went into effect this morning (Thursday) and is set to end Nov. 6.
The order restricts the size of crowds at indoor locations, including restaurants and bars, in response to a “a deadly, uncontrolled and exponentially growing spike in cases of COVID-19," that has strained hospitals statewide.
Under the order, private venues would be limited to 25% of their usual capacity.
The Evers’ administration says the order is an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down his "Safer at Home" order on May 13.
The order reads, “the state is the nation’s COVID-19 hotspot and intervening measures are necessary to slow the rampage of illness and death caused by the virus.”
Croninger said his office cannot prosecute referrals related to the order because of significant concerns about its constitutional validity based on the failure of Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm, who issued the order, to follow appropriate rule making processes prescribed under Wisconsin law.
He also said Palm appears to have exceeded her authority in issuing the order.
“Therefore, while the rule itself may be a prudent expression of public policy, enforcing a rule that has not properly been instituted would violate the constitutional rights of those the rule is enforced against,” said Croninger in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon. “ As I have always done as district attorney, I refuse to knowingly violate the constitutional rights of any person.”
Croninger said his position on the constitutionality of the rule is in no way a statement on the necessity or appropriateness of the rule itself.
“Undoubtedly, Covid-19 is a significant public health crisis, one that necessitates response from government at a local, state and national level,” his statement read. “While reasonable minds can differ on an appropriate response to this crisis, what we should all agree on, is that any governmental response must only occur within the enumerated constitutional powers of each branch of government.”
He further states, ”Given the significant nature of this public health crisis, I would encourage all citizens to become familiar with publicly available information on
Covid-19, the symptoms of Covid-19 and how to prevent its spread. I would also encourage all citizens to follow the advice of medical professionals in determining an appropriate way to proceed in these difficult times.”