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Federal Judge Finds Pennsylvania’s Covid-19 Shutdown Orders Unconstitutional

Published: September 16, 2020
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Coronavirus-related policies implemented by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration, which required people to stay home, ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close, and placed limits on public gatherings are unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, an appointee of President Donald Trump, said that measures taken by Wolf and the state’s secretary of health to combat the spread of the virus were “well-intentioned,” but he found that “good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge.”

The judge ruled that limits imposed on gatherings violate the right of assembly under the First Amendment and found that stay-at-home and business closure orders violate the Fourteenth Amendment.

“The Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency. Actions taken by Defendants crossed those lines,” Stickman wrote.

The governor’s administration said it will seek to appeal the ruling.

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