PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A federal judge in Western Pennsylvania ruled early Monday afternoon that statewide lockdowns issued by Governor Tom Wolf were unconstitutional. The lockdowns that were ordered in mid-March forced the temporary closure of all businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining”.
U.S District Judge William S. Stickman IV ruled in favor of four Western Pennsylvania counties (Butler, Green, Fayette, and Washington) that filed a lawsuit against the Governor’s shutdown of various small businesses. The shutdown came statewide on March 19th, 2020 and forced thousands of small businesses to close for multiple months. These measures were found to be a violation of the 14th Amendment while crowd-size restrictions were a violation of the 1st Amendment and the right to assemble peacefully.
Governor Tom Wolf has been one of the toughest leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the initial lockdowns, he made Pennsylvania one of the first states to have a statewide mask mandate. Restaurants were also greatly restricted and at the moment the maximum capacity is still only 25% in the Keystone State. An Ohio restaurant deemed Wolf it’s ‘Employee of the Month’ for his help in boosting business during the pandemic. At the time, restaurants in PA could not operate inside dining and customers were flocking to neighboring states like Ohio so they could eat out.
It will be interesting to see what happens next with the state’s mask mandate. A lawsuit was filed earlier this month by citizens in Pennsylvania’s Middle District Court that argued a mask mandate violated their constitutional rights.