(WYTV) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration will try to appeal a federal judge’s ruling over the governor’s shutdown orders. The ruling says that those orders at the height of the pandemic were unconstitutional.
Four counties in western Pennsylvania filed that lawsuit back in March. The judge ruled in favor of those counties on Monday, saying Gov. Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine had good intentions but their actions crossed a legal line.
“That’s why we have courts, that’s why we have a constitution, and they’re supposed to abide by the same rules as we abide by,” said Congressman Mike Kelly.
Kelly was part of the suit.
“This is not about whether we should wear masks, whether we should social distance, whether we should wash our hands — that’s not what the issue was. The issue was the executive branch shut down businesses, determined what was life-essential and what wasn’t,” he said.
Hours after a federal judge ruled Pennsylvania’s pandemic response unconstitutional, the state held its daily coronavirus briefing. Dr. Levine said she couldn’t comment much on the situation.
“As you know, I’m not an attorney and so my opinion is not the issue. I know we have received the opinion and the Office of General Council, and all of our attorneys are reviewing it,” she said.
Gov. Wolf’s office later released a statement saying it’s “disappointed” and “will file an appeal.” It went on to say this ruling doesn’t have an impact on any of the orders currently in place, including indoor gatherings limited to 25 people and outdoor gatherings capped at 250.
The administration is disappointed with the result and will seek a stay of the decision and file an appeal. The actions taken by the administration were mirrored by governors across the country and saved, and continue to save lives in the absence of federal action. This decision is especially worrying as Pennsylvania and the rest of the country are likely to face a challenging time with the possible resurgence of COVID-19 and the flu in the fall and winter.
Today’s court ruling is limited to the business closure order and the stay at home orders issued in March and were later suspended, as well as the indoor and outdoor gathering limitations.
This ruling does not impact any of the other mitigation orders currently in place including, but not limited to the targeted mitigation orders announced in July, mandatory telework, mandatory mask order, worker safety order, and the building safety order.”Office of the Governor
But starting Sept. 21, restaurants can go to 50% capacity and alcohol can’t be served past 10 p.m.
Kelly believes people should make these decisions for themselves or their businesses.
“So when you say who should be making these decisions, really, it comes down to, ‘It’s us,'” Kelly said.