Tag Archives: social distancing

An Exciting Victory

As those of you who live in Wisconsin probably noticed, yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision declaring the most recent stay-at-home order from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services unconstitutional. From a practical level, this returns the choice of whether or not to open to businesses and communities. From a more esoteric perspective, the ruling preserves due process and the rule of law in Wisconsin by requiring agencies to operate only within the explicit bounds of their legislative authority. 

But on a much more personal level, the case represents the culmination of nearly ten years of effort from the legal foundation where I work.

Almost ten years of lobbying, educating, and brief writing. Almost ten years of cases representing farmers and nurses and others regulated businesses.

All because agencies frequently use more power than the legislature specifically gave them and no one holds them accountable for it. But yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court finally drew a line in the sand. Agencies can only use the authority explicitly granted to them by the Wisconsin Legislature. The Court explained: 

¶51 “To place this contention in context, the reader should note that there is history underlying how courts have interpreted administrative agency powers. Formerly, court decisions permitted Wisconsin administrative agency powers to be implied. See Wis. Citizens Concerned for Cranes & Doves v. DNR, 2004 WI 40, ¶14, 270 Wis. 2d 318, 677 N.W.2d 612. In theory, “any reasonable doubt pertaining to an agency’s implied powers” was resolved “against the agency.” Wis. Builders Ass’n v. DOT, 2005 WI App 160, ¶9, 285 Wis. 2d 472, 702 N.W.2d 433. However, the Legislature concluded that this theory did not match reality. Therefore, under 2011 Wis. Act 21, the Legislature significantly altered our administrative law jurisprudence by imposing an “explicit authority requirement” on our interpretations of agency powers. Kirsten Koschnick, Comment, Making “Explicit Authority” Explicit Deciphering Wis. Act 21’s Prescriptions for Agency Rulemaking Authority, 2019 Wis. L. Rev. 993, 997.

(As an aside, Kirsten is a former intern at the foundation where I work and a friend of mine. She deserves all the congratulations for getting cited!) 

¶52 “The explicit authority requirement is codified at Wis. Stat. § 227.10(2m), which provides: “No agency may implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold, . . . unless that standard, requirement, or threshold is explicitly required or explicitly permitted by statute or by a rule that has been promulgated in accordance with this subchapter[.]” Furthermore, Wis. Stat. § 227.11(2)(a)1.—3., as summarized by a recent comment in the Wisconsin Law Review, “prevent[s] agencies from circumventing this new ‘explicit authority’ requirement by simply utilizing broad statutes describing the agency’s general duties or legislative purpose as a blank check for regulatory authority.” Koschnick, Making “Explicit Authority” Explicit, at 996. The explicit authority requirement is, in effect, a legislatively imposed canon of construction that requires us to narrowly construe imprecise delegations of power to administrative agencies…”

While there are plenty of battles left to fight, this is a victory and one well worth celebrating. 

It was worth wondering if I would fail my final because I had no time to study because I was at the office trying to get the brief finished with my boss. It was worth running the three blocks in high heels because none of us attorneys can get anything done on time without our support staff. (Who are all working from home and not around to help with the jammed printer!) It was worth locking myself out of the building and standing in the cold until the other intern came out to get me, forgot he also didn’t have a key, and so stranded both of us out in the cold. Actually…it was all worth it for the comical, pained expression when I handed over the blood-stained appendix to our brief because my boss stabbed himself with a stapler and we didn’t have time to print out another one before everything closed…

Ugh, just kidding. What an awful day that was. I knew there was a reason I didn’t blog about it. But guess what? It was worth it because incrementally, we preserve the rule of law by drawing clear lines for when an unelected, unchecked bureaucrat can regulate you and when it can’t. And that’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And run in high heels, get stabbed with a stapler, and freeze in the cold. 

ALLLLLLL the Library Holds

If y’all recall on March 4 I wrote a blog post about how I kept maxing out my library cards’ allotted holds on Libby and couldn’t wait for them to come in…

Well, they’re all coming in now.


Because finals and all. 

Fate’s End by Ilona Andrews and Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop and The Great Debate by Yuval Levin and The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary and Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore and Hard Times by Charles Dickens and Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. 

All within the last 48 hours!

Work Mood GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Quarantine House Memes

Have you seen the quarantine house memes? They tend to pop up on my favorite niche meme pages…like law school memes and Jane Austen memes. The premise is simple: pick a house!

I’d have to go with House #6 because Dorothy Parker

National Novel Writing Month — Choose Your Quarantine House ...

After much analysis….I have to go with House #4. House #5 close second because Howl. 

Hilary Davidson on Twitter: "Ditto… "

House #4 maybe? It would be highly entertaining. 

Going to have to go with House #3. The combination will either find the cure to COVID-19 or spend the entire time on theoretical debates. Entertaining either way.

House #5 because Mary Poppins.

House #6. Someone has to keep Laura sane.

These 'choose your quarantine house' games keep getting harder 😅

House #2. I like the idea of House #5, but seems kind of intense for being trapped in one place.

As my friend Kayla said, “That would be kinda awkward hanging out in houses with a bunch of dead guys.”

I lean House #6 but admittedly know little of dogs. 

House #4 all the way. J. Scalia, dissenting forever.

House #II for Justices Thomas and Frankfurter. I would go House III because Scalia but the Chief Justice would drive me crazy.




Quarantine Rambles

I don’t have much to say today, though I feel like I should. It was a very long day. I dropped the car off at a mechanic’s bright and early and took the bus home. It was an interesting experience. I was the only rider. 

Then a day full of juggling work and TAing. As stated yesterday, we studied Marx. It actually went better than expected. My favorite moment was when a student sighed in frustration at a particularly dramatic conclusion and said, “Ugh, where is this even coming from?! Citation needed.” Which is exactly how I feel.

I had a meeting I couldn’t attend for the Foundation because it conflicted with TAing and another meeting at noon that I could only jump on for five minutes. And then I had one tonight I missed because I simply forgot about it. 

Plus prep for class tomorrow (my second to last day of law classes!!!) and picking up my car (much fuller bus ride) and grocery shopping (carbs don’t count during finals.) 

And now I feel sleepy and content and like I’m drowning in things I didn’t get done. But just getting out of the apartment did me good. It felt a bit like a return to normal.

And best highlight of all, my Mom found my missing Entrepreneur Barbie! (Career of the year in 2014!) So, that totally made my day. Soon she shall return to her rightful place next to President and Vice President Barbie on my desk. 

Now if only I could find my President Pez dispensers…

Is Pez Trying to Sugarcoat American History? - The Atlantic


Busy Social Distancing Life

My sister Anna pointed out at the beginning of social distancing that somehow her life felt busier than when she physically went to school because everyone now expects her to have time to do stuff online with them. But she still has all her old responsibilities. 

I felt that today! Class and papers and projects and student elections and video chats with friends. Somehow I managed to double-book my evening and come Monday I know I am double booked again.  

I appreciate it, though! It has been fun seeing how intentional everyone has become about reaching out to friends far away. 

And did I mention how awesome the parodies have been? Just listen…

The Apartment Hunt (And Other Reflections On Life)

I used to love apartment hunting. When I first moved to Madison, few things gave me as much joy as plotting my inevitable release from the one bedroom apartment I shared with two other people. I loved touring apartments. I loved spending hours on different websites comparing layouts and designs. It felt so grown up.

But I have to admit, as I contemplate my 17th move in 8 years, I am thoroughly sick of apartment hunting. 

I think it is mostly moving around Madison. For the, like, half a second when I thought I was moving to Texas, the new adventure stirred me with excitement and I probably would have jumped in with enthusiasm. But as I’m fairly committed to Wisconsin for at least the next year, no new adventure exists. I know the housing options in Madison. I’ve studied them carefully. And I know what it will cost to exit student housing into the “real world.” Eek. 

I tried passing off the apartment hunt on Bethany, but she demonstrates extreme indifference towards where we live, so there went that plan. (Actually, I take that back. She is quite opinionated if I suggest a place she considers cheap, sketchy, or somehow uninteresting. But don’t expect her to locate a place on her own. It won’t happen. Sorry. That sounds passive aggressive. She truly is a good roommate. I like living with my sister. But did I mention I’m sick of apartment hunting?) 

So, I’m back to apartment hunting. If I want to torture myself, I sometimes look at townhouses for sale instead and imagine having a place that is mine. A place where I can paint the walls or tear up the carpet or replace the shelving. A place that means permanence and roots. 

It is a weird dichotomy. On the one hand, I crave the adventure that comes with somewhere new. On the other, I’m getting a little tired of new. I’ve done new a lot. I’ve done Tennessee, England, Idaho, Colorado, and Thailand. And Wisconsin. A lot of places in Wisconsin. 

It comes down to impatience, mostly. I’m e-mailing with an apartment complex now. I think the person I am talking to checks their e-mail once a day. At least, that’s the response rate. And I’m impatient. I want to just apply and move forward already. But I also have questions. 

So goes life. I want to know what I am doing post-August. I want to live in a place I won’t move from in a month, or half a year, or a year. I want a job that says permanence. Because I’m impatient and sometimes forget I’m only 26. 

The process of becoming is a challenging one. Whether it means impatience in housing, impatience in education, impatience in social distancing, I just want to move forward. But the becoming is important. Through the angst, I develop the person I am. The person I will become. I learn the lesson I’m supposed to learn. But gosh darn it, sometimes I wish I’d just learn it already. 

I named this blog “fernweh,” meaning homesickness for the abroad. Sometimes, though, I feel the opposite. I feel homesickness for the familiar. I wish I’d just settle, plant roots, and be content. But always in that feeling, I feel the itch. The itch for new. The itch for other. 

And so I apartment hunt. Because maybe tomorrow someone, somewhere, will list something that somehow combines my desire for ‘new’ with my desire for ‘home.’ 

And, wow, does that feel like an angsty way to end this post. But I’m feeling angsty today! I promise to calm down once I’ve settled on a new apartment. 

A New Library App

My local library announced access to a new app to help people get through social distancing…Hoopla!

Upside: it has more than ebooks and audio books. It includes TV shows, movies, and music! Including a lot of the shows on Acorn TV (like Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.) 

Downside: you can only check out 4 things a month.

I am excited to play around with it some more. It has already won my heart by having an ebook copy of Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (I could not find a copy anywhere!!!) and several Bonhoeffer books in audio format. 

If you’re part of the CAFE system, definitely give it a download. (You can do it via a phone, tablet, Roku, and several other devices!) 

Mwahahaha….I now have 8 different ways to read books on my phone. 

Social Distancing (And Wal Mart Adventures)

How’s social distancing going? Today I broke my plastic hair-pin-lace loom by using too much force. Didn’t even know that was possible. I now have a quarter-finished scarf. 

Bethany decided I needed to get out of the apartment. (Actually, she decided we were out of chocolate and she wanted to go grocery shopping but she still doesn’t drive.) 

 So we went to Wal Mart.

On the bright side, the shelves are better stocked than they were. We saw toilet paper and hand soap. Still a lot of empty shelf space, though. 

It was surprisingly crowded. Wal Mart had signs everywhere encouraging  people to stand 6 feet apart and periodically made announcements over the speaker to tell people to go  home if sick and even if healthy, stay 6 feet apart. Which, lets face it, is nearly impossible in such crowded aisles. 

But it does lead to two extreme reactions in shoppers. The first type look horrified if you venture down the same aisle as them (even if on the other side of the aisle) and give you furtive glares every few seconds. The second type look amused at their daring in coming close to you. As soon as they break the 6 feet, they grin and look mischievous. 

I don’t know that either reaction is an improvement. 

Quarantine Shopping

I am, admittedly, an unfocused shopper on the best of days. Add the pressure of a possible weeks-long shut down and it doesn’t get any better. There is just so much added pressure! I start questioning everything. 

Like, do I need milk? Granted, Bethany and I never drink milk and usually get almond milk because regular milk spoils on us. But what if we need milk in the next two weeks? 

Or bread? We still haven’t finished the last loaf we got a month ago but…I mean, bread is a necessity, right? 

Eggs? I have lots of eggs. Maybe I need more eggs.

Canned beats? Those sound super important. Probably. 

Banana peppers? I don’t have any of those. 

Do I need baking goods? Bethany and I have never baked but maybe we need flour and sugar. You never know. 

Cheese? No such thing as too much cheese. 

Toilet paper? Nah, none of that available anyway.

What even are essential staples anyway? Pringles? French bread? Ice cream? 

Eventually, I just give up and just buy frozen pizza. 


Mixed Emotions

People keep asking how I’m doing with social distancing, usually trailing off with some version of, “You’re an extrovert, so it must be really hard…”

But to be honest, this past week wasn’t particularly hard on me. Oh, it was disappointing. I should be flying back from North Carolina right now. I’m sad that I did not get to see my friends, or travel, or do any other fun spring break stuff. 

Still, at the end of the day, a spring break spent reading is not a bad spring break. And that’s really what this past week felt like. Spring break. 

Today, however, as I begin gearing up for the rest of the semester online, I am starting to feel the pinch. It really hit me after I got an e-mail from one of my clubs, which concluded:

“Finally, best wishes to all the graduating 3Ls! We will miss you.”

It was such a shocking, anticlimactic goodbye after three years of being with these people. I don’t recall if we sent the previous two classes off with much pomp, but there were cards and best wishes and farewell dinners. 

It is starting to dawn on me that regardless of whether they end up having graduation or not, the pandemic means that all of us graduates (be it high school, law school, or college!) are concluding our academic careers on a terribly anticlimactic note. I think I might take the next few days to process the lack of ceremony and what it actually means. 

But you know what? I’ll be celebrating regardless! Because I. Will. Be. Freeeeeeee! At least until I plunge myself into a new adventure.