Should Wisconsin be voting today? Longtime volunteer casts vote on Supreme Court | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Should Wisconsin be voting today? Longtime volunteer casts vote on Supreme Court 


A Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who has been a tireless volunteer within Milwaukee’s Jewish community joined the dissent against overturning the governor’s order to stop in-person voting today. 

In the 1990s, Justice Rebecca Dallet devoted countless hours to restarting and growing a youth program affiliated with Congregation Shalom of Fox Point. She’s served on the boards of Milwaukee Jewish Federation and the Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy. 

The coronavirus pandemic thrust Dallet and the rest of the court into a key role, after Gov. Tony Evers issued an eleventh-hour executive order halting inperson voting. The court voted 4-2 on Monday that today’s elections should continue. 

A dissent written by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, and joined by Dallet, argues that the governor has the needed emergency powers under a state statute that reads: The governor may . . . [i]ssue such orders as he or she deems necessary for the security of persons and property. 

But the majority opinion holds that these emergency powers were not intended to be interpreted so broadly as to halt an election. 

The dissent also points out the state secretary of health, under state statute, may “authorize and implement all emergency measures necessary to control communicable diseases.” The majority opinion indicates that this was not raised as an argument for the court to consider and views it as an incredibly broad and unsupported claim that DHS has authority to postpone elections.” 

The dissent reads: “the majoritys misguided determination is out of step with common sense and will have real consequences. When voters have been ordered to stay at home, many will make the choice not to risk their health and the health of their loved ones by venturing outside to a potentially crowded polling place. Voters who make this reasonable choice to put their health first will be disenfranchised. Those voters who do show up, along with poll workers, and everyone with whom they come in contact, will be put at needless risk of contracting a deadly virus.” 

The majority opinion sees it differently: “The question presented is not whether the policy choice to continue with this election is good or bad, or otherwise in the public interest. The dissent’s arguments are focused largely on this policy rationale. Rather, the question presented to this court is whether the Governor has the authority to suspend or rewrite state election laws. Although we recognize the extreme seriousness of the pandemic that this state is currently facing, we conclude that he does not.” 

Justice Rebecca Dallet