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State Supreme Court refuses to take up mask challenge

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has declined to take up a conservative legal group’s challenge to Dane County’s mask mandate.

In a 4-3 ruling issued Friday afternoon, the court refused to exercise its own jurisdiction over the recent public health order, instead leaving it up to the state’s lower courts to consider any future legal challenges first, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty challenged the mask mandate in a lawsuit on behalf of Sun Prairie resident Bryant Stempski against Dane County and Madison, their joint public health department, and the department’s director, Janel Heinrich, asking the court to “declare the relevant county and city ordinances unconstitutional.”

Under Dane County’s order, everyone age 2 and older must wear a face covering when in any enclosed space open to the public where other people, except for members of the person’s own household, could be present. The mandate remains in effect until Sept. 16.

The four justices in the majority did not provide further elaboration on the court’s order. The three dissenting justices, all conservatives, argued the court had refused its responsibility to determine “what the law is” and what authority public health officials have to issue compulsory mandates.

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