|2. Federal judge in Pittsburgh declares Wolf’s key COVID-19 restrictions unconstitutional; Wolf plans appeal
A U.S. District court judge in Pittsburgh has struck down the most significant portions of the Wolf administration’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that state-imposed limits on outdoor gatherings, its stay at home order, and its business shutdown orders were unconstitutional.
Officials in four southwestern Pennsylvania counties: Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, brought the action. They were joined by businesses and Republican office-seekers.
“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,” U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV wrote in a 66-page opinion. “Rather, the Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed even in an emergency.”
The court’s ruling found that Wolf’s business shutdown plan, enacted by executive order in March as the pandemic took hold, violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause, and that administration’s stay-at-home orders violated constitutional due process protections.