Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic restrictions that required people to stay at home, placed size limits on gatherings and ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down are unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, sided with plaintiffs that included hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders in their lawsuit against Wolf, a Democrat, and his health secretary.
The Wolf administration’s pandemic policies have been overreaching and arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights, Stickman wrote in his ruling.
The governor’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency. But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered,” Stickman wrote. “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.”