A federal judge in Pittsburgh on Monday found that orders issued by Gov. Tom Wolf restricting the size of gatherings and closing non-essential businesses to protect against the spread of covid-19 were unconstitutional.
In a statement, Wolf said his office will seek an immediate stay to halt the order and file an appeal.
U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV wrote in his 66-page opinion that even though the actions taken in the spring by Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine were laudable, they violated the First Amendment right to freedom of assembly, and the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.
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“It’s a complete and total victory for the counties, the businesses and the representatives,” said attorney Thomas W. King III, who represented the plaintiffs in the case. “You can’t order the entire population of Pennsylvania to stay at home.”
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, which represented the defendants in the case, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokeswoman for the governor, said they are disappointed in the decision.
“The actions taken by the administration were mirrored by governors across the country and saved, and continue to save, lives in the absence of federal action,” she 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.” Read more at TRIB Live