Federal Judge Rules Lockdowns and Business Closures Unconstitutional
(RightWing.org) – In April and May, US Attorney General William Barr warned governors and local officials that the US Constitution and the liberties afforded in it did not cease to exist because of a pandemic. Now a federal court agrees.
On Monday, September 14, US Federal Judge William Stickman IV ruled in a 66-page opinion that the lockdown restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) were unconstitutional.
Recent Pennsylvania History
In late March, Governor Wolf ordered that all citizens were immediately under stay-at-home orders and all non-essential businesses were closed for two weeks to allow hospitals to limit the spread of COVID-19 and prepare for emergency overfills. In April, Wolf and Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine added a new order that limited gatherings to 12 people.
Despite the fact that the hospitals were never overrun, Wolf and Levine continued to extend their orders through mid-June. Throughout the process, and to this very day, the governor refused to work with the Republican-led state legislature and took it upon himself to enact his own regulations.
In May, Wolf and Levine were sued by a coalition of federal and state elected officials, counties, and numerous small business owners.
Judge Slaps Down Wolf’s Actions
In his ruling, Judge Stickman acknowledged the difficulty in managing a public health emergency and said he believed the governor was well-intentioned. However, that alone is not sufficient. Stickman ruled that Wolf violated Constitutional guarantees of free assembly, due process under the 14th Amendment, and equal protection.
The judge wrote,
Upon ruling PA restrictions unconstitutional. pic.twitter.com/zQpamCXIXo
— PatriotKat(@KathyFoust) September 15, 2020
Contradictions From Governor Get Him in Trouble
Judge Stickman questioned Wolf’s inconsistencies. He said the restrictions were too broad and not narrowly-tailored to meet the governor’s objective of controlling the transmission of the virus.
The judge wrote that people had a constitutional right to make a living under the 14th Amendment.
Strickman said that the order caused damage to a business’s ability to survive, and an employee’s ability to provide for one’s self, and government-induced unpredictability of nature and life. Therefore, the effect was immediate and severe.
Lockdowns and Personal Liberty
Finally, the judge said that stay-at-home orders were a contradiction to the ideals of liberty in a free society. The judge concluded by saying the Constitution doesn’t accept a “new normal” where rights are subordinate to open-ended mitigation efforts.
Judge Stickman’s ruling could have significant implications on the policies of other states moving forward, as well as how future crises can be managed by the federal and state governments.
The Wolf administration said late Monday evening it would appeal the ruling. Stay tuned.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
Copyright 2020, RightWing.org