Federal District Court Strikes Down Pennsylvania Governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Orders as Unconstitutional

On September 14, 2020, a federal court in Pennsylvania ruled that Governor Tom Wolf’s emergency orders relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs—a group of counties, elected public officials and businesses—challenged several of the governor’s COVID-19 orders requiring numeric limitations on gatherings of individuals, closures of nonlife-sustaining businesses and directing Pennsylvanians to stay at home. Judge William S. Stickman IV of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, declaring that portions of the challenged orders violate the United States Constitution.

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