A first in many different attempts at removing tyrannical powers from governor Tom Wolf, a win for the people.
BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. — A judge ruled in favor of several local counties in a federal lawsuit filed against Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine over COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and orders to close all “non-life-sustaining” businesses.
This story will be updated as details emerge.https://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/covid-19-restrictions-by-gov-wolf-dr-levine-unconstitutional-judge-rules/https://www.youthhockeyinfo.com/cobvw.pdfThe McShane Firm LLC.
FEDERAL JUDGE STRICKLAND ENDS WOLF EMERGENCY POWERS in very large part. Although the judge found the congregate gathering component, the stay at home, and the business closure components as to the specific plaintiffs is unconstitutional, it should be read that similarly situated folks would "win" as well.
***********************************SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Unless Governor Wolf gets a stay from the judge or gets a stay from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, this is the current law of the land effective immediately. So, the congregate gathering ban issued by the SOE and the DOH are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The business closure and restriction aspects of the SOE and DOH are likewise unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Although there are no stay-at-home orders in effect in PA, they too are unconstitutional and cannot be re-introduced.
Other aspects, specifically the masks restrictions, are untouched.
The judge in his opinion narrowly crafted it for relief as to the particular plaintiffs involved, but given the type and kind of folks involved, it should apply universally.
Declaratory judgment was issued in favor of the political plaintiffs, and business plaintiffs, but the county litigants were dismissed because they lack standing as creatures of the state and do not have inherent rights under the PA and fed constitution as they are a creation of the state.
For law geeks the judge held that ordinary constitutional scrutiny applied as opposed to lesser emergency regime.
Specifically, the First Amendment claims were held to be intermediate scrutiny because they apply across the board and are content neutral (content-neutral regulations of speech). And that although the government has an undoubted compelling interest in fighting against community spread of CoVID 19, the congregate gather bans are not the least restrictive mans to do so. Therefore it is unconstitutional.
We are still evaluating Federal Judge William Stickman IV's declaratory judgment against Governor Wolf and the impact it has statewide, but here are some preliminary points:
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 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.
"Rather, the Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency. Actions taken by defendants crossed those lines. It is the duty of the court to declare those actions unconstitutional."
We are still awaiting a fax of the filed opinion and order. Standby for more.