U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, who President Donald Trump nominated last May, ruled Monday that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s unilateral limits on gathering sizes and business shutdowns are arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Stickman said the state’s orders violate the “the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Stickman that Wolf’s executive orders “were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency. But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered,” KDKA and the Associated Press reported.
Wolf had already revoked his stay-at-home order and many mandatory business closures before the ruling came down.
Yet many of his directives remain intact, as the state government continues to target restaurants, bars, and salons.
Not more than 25 Pennsylvanians can gather inside at a time and not more than 250 can gather outside at a time.
Restaurants must limit their indoor seating capacity to 25 percent.
Customers cannot drink alcohol at a restaurant unless they buy the drink with a meal.
Wolf announced that he will tolerate 50 percent capacity at restaurants on Sept. 21.
His administration has not yet announced whether they will challenge the judge’s decision.
Republican legislators and four counties filed the lawsuit against the governor and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine in May.
These counties may face punishment for their resistance.
Wolf has threatened to block coronavirus aid to counties that refuse to enforce his mandates because they are “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy,” Fox News reported.
Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, which are in southwestern Pennsylvania, joined with Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn., and state reps. Marcie Mustello, Daryl Metcalfe and Tim Bonner to sue Wolf and Levine.
“The liberties protected by the Constitution are not fair-weather freedoms — in place when times are good but able to be cast aside in times of trouble,” Stickman wrote.