Court Rules Wolf’s Business Closure, Gathering Limits Unconstitutional

A federal court has ruled that several of Governor Wolf’s orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are unconstitutional. The ruling by U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV pertains to early stay-at-home and business closure orders, as well as limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings. Governor Wolf has vowed to appeal the decision “as far as necessary” and seek a stay to temporarily block the decision.

Per Pittsburgh’s Action News 4, the key passage of the federal court ruling declared:

“(1) that the congregate gathering limits imposed by defendants’ mitigation orders violate the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment; (2) that the stay-at-home and business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) that the business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

It is not clear at this time how the ruling affects orders related to limited capacity for businesses. The ruling also does not impact other safety orders including mask requirements. The Chamber is encouraging businesses to continue to follow existing orders until clarification is provided.