If you think your Constitutional Rights have been trampled on during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Consumers, business owners, and city and county officials have been dealing with the state governments that have curbed their rights to free assembly and due process, among other things. Now a group in Pennsylvania has finally had their day in court, and it went well.
A group of counties, federal and state elected representatives, and several small businesses sued Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine, claiming their broad, statewide lockdown restrictions on large gatherings and the closing of non-life-sustaining businesses were unconstitutional.
The actions denied the plaintiffs of the right to freely assemble with people of their choice, and of the due process required to stop them from operating their businesses or using their private property.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV agreed. He wrote that lockdown orders are “such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional,” as he ruled the moves to be unconstitutional.
While those restrictions were “well-intentioned, good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge. Indeed, the greatest threats to our system of constitutional liberties may arise when the ends are laudable and the intent is good—especially in time of emergency.”
Stickman pointed out that the rules were not narrowly written and were much broader than necessary to achieve the goals of the state. As proof of this, Stickman pointed out the governor allowed people to visit malls, restaurants, and stores in greater numbers than other types of businesses or gatherings, and that large protests, which the governor attended, were also allowed.