A federal district judge in the state of Pennsylvania ruled on Monday, Sept. 14, in favor of plaintiffs who challenged Gov. Tom Wolf’s actions on behalf of the pandemic of the CCP virus, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Judge William Stickman IV explained in his ruling that although the measures taken by the state government were intended to contain the spread of the virus in a health emergency, the authority of the government is not unlimited. “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,” the judge wrote.
The plaintiffs include hair salon owners, drive-ins theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer, and various Republican officeholders who reject such measures as limiting the number of people who can gather indoors to only 25, or at an outdoor event to only 250.
Press secretary for Wolf Lyndsay Kensinger said they will appeal the decision and try to extend the restrictions, arguing that the measures imposed are very similar to those other states have taken to curb the pandemic.
Although Pennsylvania relaxed some of the restrictions, the judge noted that it only suspended them, without overriding them, which means that it can reapply them at will and this is what the ruling seeks to reverse.
The attorney who represented the plaintiffs, Thomas W. King, said, “It’s really 100% in our favor. The court found in all respects that the orders issued by the governor and the secretary of health were unconstitutional. What it means is they can’t do it again, and they should not have done it in the past,” King said.
By reopening its economy, Pennsylvania limited occupancy to 75 percent of capacity in most businesses and 50 percent in theaters, gyms, salons, and shopping malls. It imposed even more restrictive measures on bars and restaurants, which Wolf’s administration blamed for a summer surge in virus cases.
Remarkably, the ruling of the judge, who was appointed by President Trump, reflects the Republican position that advocates noninvasive government, putting individual freedoms first, and certainly sets precedents, although if the case had been handled by a liberal or Democratic judge, the outcome would surely have been different.