Federal Judge Rules COVID Orders Are Unconstitutional
On September 14, 2020, Judge William S. Stickman IV of the federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that the State of Pennsylvania's event and gathering limitations (25 people indoors and 250 people outdoors), the stay-at-home order, and the business closure order implemented by Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine violated Pennsylvanians’ rights under the United States Constitution. The 66-page Opinion is linked below.
The plaintiffs challenging the orders included several elected officials and various small business owners. In the Opinion, the Court ruled that the event and gathering limits violated the First Amendment, the stay-at-home order violated Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process, and the business closure order violated both Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process and Equal Protection. The Court has yet to rule on plaintiffs’ challenges to the orders based on Procedural Due Process and Takings Claims.
Governor Wolf has announced that he is appealing the federal District Court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. With an appeal pending, the effect of the District Court's decision on the enforceability of Governor's Orders in question is unclear at present.
MacDonald Illig will update you promptly regarding the outcome of this case and its impact on your day-to-day life. In the meantime, contact a MacDonald Illig attorney if you have any questions regarding continued life in the time of COVID-19.