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Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Governor’s Mask Mandate

File - In this image provided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, arguments are held Nov. 16, 2020, on whether to strike down the state's mask mandate being challenged by conservatives as an unconstitutional overreach of power by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

The Supreme Court in the state of Wisconsin Wednesday struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, ruling that the Democrat exceeded his authority by unilaterally extending the mandate for months through multiple emergency orders.

The conservative-controlled court voted 4-3 to strike down the “safer at home” order, saying that his health secretary did not have the authority to issue such an order.

Announcing the decision for the majority, Justice Brian Hagedorn said, "The question in this case is not whether the governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not."

The ruling comes after Republicans in the state legislature voted to repeal the mask mandate in February, only to see Evers quickly re-issue it. State law says governors may issue health emergencies for 60 days at which point the legislature must approve an extension.

Evers has argued he may issue new emergencies because the coronavirus pandemic's threat has changed.

The court last May struck down the governor’s attempts to limit capacity in bars, restaurants and other indoor places.

The new ruling comes on the same day as a White House COVID-19 advisor called on all state governors to maintain or re-instate mask mandates in their states as new virus cases continue to rise in the nation.

Earlier this month, five states allowed their mandates to expire, joining another 11 states that never implemented mask mandates at all.

At a White House briefing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky said the most recent figures show the U.S. seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is up by 12% over the previous week.