Federal Court Decision Rules Gov. Wolf Emergency Declarations Were Unconstitutional

Date: September 16, 2020

A few days ago, U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV ruled that Governor Wolf’s emergency declarations shutting down all “non-life sustaining” businesses and his placement of caps on the size of both indoor and outdoor gatherings was unconstitutional. At NFIB in PA, we’re closely monitoring developments in the case, since aspects of the decision could have significant impact on many of our member businesses – particularly those in the hospitality and group events industry.  Judge Stickman’s sixty-six-page decision includes language that would set aside limitations on group gatherings and future business closure and stay-at-home orders, stating that “…even in an emergency, the authority of the government is not unfettered.” 

As was expected, the Wolf Administration is seeking a postponement or “stay” of the decision and will be filing an appeal at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in short order. It is unknown whether or not the decision will hold up under appeal, but Judge Stickman’s ruling has provided a sense of hope and encouragement that, despite the health and economic challenges faced in Pennsylvania, that power of one individual in one branch of government is not without limitations. 

Here at the Pennsylvania office we’ve pressed hard for the safe and expedited reopening of our state’s economy with small business owners being the primary focus. Progress may come from the federal courts or legislative action such as overriding gubernatorial vetoes. NFIB is working to get our members totally reopened and on a stronger financial footing. Your NFIB PA team is pushing hard on every door!

Related Content: Small Business News | Pennsylvania

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