The court also found that for religious schools, Heinrich’s order violated the Wisconsin Constitution’s religious freedom guarantee, and it questioned her decision to shutter schools but not many businesses, colleges or child care centers.
Heinrich said Public Health was “extremely disappointed” in the decision and warned that it could have dangerous ramifications in the future. “The order from Public Health Madison and Dane County closing all county schools was illegal, unnecessary and unconstitutional,” he said in a statement. “Even as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, the court’s decision provides a critical correction that ought to prevent future abuses of power in an emergency.”
“This ruling means that under Wis. Stats. Sec. 252.03 we are no longer able to contain a measles, pertussis (whooping cough) or flu outbreak in a school,” she said in a statement. “This ruling impedes our ability to respond to any disease that might impact students, teachers and school staff, and impacts family and friends beyond the walls of the school. Unnecessary, preventable illness may certainly occur as a result of this ruling.” Rick Esenberg, president of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which represented some of the plaintiffs in the case, hailed the decision.
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