Federal Judge Rules Pennsylvania Closure Orders Were Unconstitutional
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
A U.S. District Court judge ruled that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) orders banning large gatherings and closing “nonessential” businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional.
Judge William Stickman IV, who was appointed to the bench by President Donald Trump, wrote that Wolf’s orders – which are no longer in effect — were a “well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus.”
“However,” Stickman wrote, “good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge.”
Plaintiffs had argued Wolf’s orders violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Stickman wrote that “even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered.”
“The liberties protected by the Constitution are not fair-weather freedoms,” he said, “in place when times are good but able to be cast off in times of trouble.”
“The Constitution,” Stickman said, “sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency.”
Gov. Wolf’s office says it will appeal the ruling. According to the Washington Post, a representative for Wolf’s office said:
“This decision is especially worrying as Pennsylvania and the rest of the country are likely to face a challenging time with the possible resurgence of covid-19 and the flu in the fall and winter.”
Image credit: By Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons