Judge: Pennsylvania's pandemic restrictions unconstitutional

Posted 36 days ago

From WWW.WTAE.COM

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's closing of "non-life-sustaining" businesses and restrictions on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday.

"We're aware of the ruling and are reviewing the decision," a spokesperson for the governor's office said Monday afternoon.

The ruling by U. S. District Judge William Stickman IV was made in a case in which Butler, Greene, Fayette and Washington counties are listed as plaintiffs. The counties had filed suit, claiming the shutdown orders were unconstitutional.

Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote in his ruling that the Wolf administration's pandemic policies have been overreaching, arbitrary and violated citizens' constitutional rights.

Stickman ruled in favor of individual and business plaintiffs, and he dismissed the county governments from the case. Individuals who won the favorable ruling include U. S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.; state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler; and various businesses including hair salons and the Starlight Drive-In.

The declaratory judgment says "(1) that the congregate gathering limits imposed by defendants' mitigation orders violate the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment; (2) that the stay-at-home and business closure components of defendants' orders violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) that the business closure components of defendants' orders violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

In his written opinion, Stickman noted that the Wolf administration's actions "were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency," but that "even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered."

"The liberties protect... (Read more)