“Even in an emergency, the authority of the government is not unfettered,” so says part of an opinion by a federal judge in western Pennsylvania who ruled certain portions of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response are in violation of the Constitution.

In his decision which was announced yesterday, the honorable Judge William Stickman IV, presiding over the case of County of Butler vs Wolf, called certain restrictions enacted by Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine “well-intentioned”, but in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution. Judge Stickman’s decision does not apply to mask orders, but does apply to certain aspects of Pennsylvania’s limits on the size of social gatherings, stay at home, and business closing orders which will be subject to new action. One of the case’s plaintiffs, Representative Tim Bonner, said that he hopes this will lead to more cooperation between the governor and legislature moving forward.