PITTSBURGH – Federal Judge has ruled Gov. Tom Wolf’s closing of non-life-sustaining businesses and restrictions on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic unconstitutional.
Butler, Greene, Fayette, and Washington Counties filed suit against Gov. Tom Wolf’s office claiming the shutdown orders were unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV filed the ruling. Stickman ruled in favor of individual and business plaintiffs, and he dismissed the county governments from the case.
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 protected by the Constitution are not fair-weather freedoms — in place when times are good but able to be cast aside in times of trouble,” Stickman wrote. “There is no question that this country has faced, and will face, emergencies of every sort. But the solution to a national crisis can never be permitted to supersede the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the foundation of the American experiment. The constitution cannot accept the concept of a ‘new normal’ where the basic liberties of the people can be subordinated to open-ended emergency mitigation measures.”