Wisconsin Spotlight | July 7, 2020
MADISON — The plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against overreaching government officials are seeking an immediate injunction against Madison and Milwaukee health directors and their oppressive new public health rules.
Veterans Liberty Law in Cedarburg, on behalf of the plaintiffs, filed the motion late last week after Madison Dane Public Health Officer Janelle Heinrich and City of Milwaukee Public Health Officer Jeanette Kowalik issued new restrictions, the bureaucrats contend, to stave off rising COVID-19 cases.
In Dane County, for instance, the new restrictions drastically limit the number of patrons at restaurants and have closed down bars and taverns. Health officials say an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases stem in large part from twenty-somethings not practicing social distancing at drinking establishments.
“We are asking the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to enjoin the new Dane County and Milwaukee “Emergency” Orders that went into effect on July 2nd and July 1st, 2020. Together, these two individuals have issued 11 ‘emergency’ orders in less than two months,” said attorney Joe Voiland, former Ozaukee County judge, in a press release.
Voiland said the Wisconsin statutes provide that Heinrich and Kowalik may “forbid public gatherings,” but their orders go far beyond what the law allows.
“Dane Emergency Order #7 limits private gatherings, including inside your own home. It prohibits an extended family of more than 10 from planning a dinner together inside one of their own homes, and prohibits any religious gathering of more than 10 people, whether inside a private home, church, synagogue, or other house of worship.”
One of the plaintiffs, Pastor Daniel Quakkelaar from Friend of Sinners Mission Church, closed his church in early March 2020 before any government order required it. In June, he marched in a Milwaukee demonstration after the death of George Floyd.
Quakkalar, a U.S. Army veteran who served behind the Iron Curtain and trained as a broadcast journalist, notes that the march he participated in involved people gathering in close quarters, singing and chanting, some passing water bottles among the crowd. That activity is similar to the kind of activity that has been used to justify stricter limits on church and worship services.
“Defendants Heinrich and Kowalik are unelected officials. Their Orders have no end date, are subject to review by no one, and they themselves are subject to no action by the voters. No one voted them in, and no one can vote them out,” Voiland said.
The motion for an injunction against Madison and Milwaukee health officials is part of a broader liberty lawsuit.
In May, 17 Wisconsin plaintiffs sued state and local governments in federal court for locking down their civil liberties.
The lawsuit, originally included 16 defendants — from Gov. Tony Evers and his Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to local health and law enforcement officers.
It alleges state and local orders shutting down businesses and much of life at large in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have violated the constitutional liberties of the plaintiffs, as they have defied a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in May that declared such orders nonenforceable.
The suit seeks a temporary restraining order against local and state officials from “enforcing, attempting to enforce, threatening to enforce” orders that treat the plaintiffs differently than businesses and people deemed as “essential” to society. Ultimately, the litigation asks permanent injunctive relief, and damages.
“While governors govern and legislatures legislate, these defendants rule. Their orders are edicts and should not be treated with the deference given duly enacted laws,” Voiland said in his latest filing. “These Defendants have exceeded their powers and violated the constitutional rights of the Plaintiffs. Madison Dane Emergency Order #7 and Milwaukee Order #4 should be enjoined by this Court.”