A federal judge denied Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s motion to stay a week after determining that the state’s coronavirus restrictions were unconstitutional, numerous sources reported.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV to delay enforcement of his ruling that the governor and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s restrictions were arbitrary and violated constitutional rights, according to KDKA. Stickman denied the motion to stay Tuesday, writing that “there is no just reason for delay.”
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) September 22, 2020
Stickman ruled in favor of multiple plaintiffs who alleged that the governor and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s restrictions were arbitrary and violated constitutional rights. Various businesses including hair salons and drive-in theaters won the favorable ruling. Multiple counties and Republican lawmakers were also plaintiffs, although the judge dismissed the county governments from the case. (RELATED: Judge Rules Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Coronavirus Restrictions Unconstitutional)
The state has been enforcing a gathering limit of more than 25 people for events held indoors and 250 people for those held outside, although Levine was criticized by state lawmakers when it was revealed in August that the health secretary had made a secret deal to allow a car show to open for a multi-day event that attracted 20,000 people per day. The state also required “non-essential” businesses to shut down for several weeks.
Wolf said they would appeal the ruling, according to KDKA. Shapiro’s office argued that Stickman’s ruling “does not consider the manner in which COVID-19 is spread or the rationale for adopting the congregate limits.” It also said that other federal judges and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have upheld Wolf’s pandemic shutdown orders.
“The split in authority created by the Court’s opinion makes it difficult, if not impossible, for (the Wolf administration) to manage the pandemic effectively and has created confusion and uncertainty throughout Pennsylvania,” the state’s motion said.
Attorney Thomas W. King III, who is representing the plaintiffs, said the plaintiffs will “vigorously” oppose the state’s request for a stay, which King said would amount to a reimposition of “unconstitutional restraints” on Pennsylvania residents, according to KDKA.