HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) lauded a federal judge Monday for declaring that edicts and actions taken by the Wolf administration have been unconstitutional, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The judge’s ruling specifically cited Governor’s Wolf’s group gathering limitation, and flawed business waiver program that resulted in statewide businesses closing their doors.
U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV wrote that the “Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency. Actions taken by the defendants crossed those lines. It is the duty of the Court to declare those actions unconstitutional.” Stickman ruled that Wolf’s orders violated components of the first and fourteenth amendments, such as the freedom of assembly, due process and equal protection clauses.
Mastriano stated: “Today’s ruling by Judge Stickman shows that the courts are paying attention to the government overreach and oppression that has been occurring in Pennsylvania. Enough is enough.”
“Lawmakers have been asking the Governor to work together for six months, but those requests have fallen upon deaf ears,” continued Mastriano. “I have full confidence that state residents can move on from this pandemic and implement their own health and safety practices, without the government interfering in our lives.”
Wolf is currently not allowing indoor gatherings of more than 25 people, and has limited outdoor groups to 250 people. Previously, when counties were placed in a color-coded lockdown system, group gatherings were further restricted.
“The double standards by the Governor have been alarming – it was OK for him to participate in a protest when he was not allowing groups to congregate, yet he ordered that families were not allowed to convene for holidays, picnics or special events,” said Mastriano.
Over the past few months, Mastriano noted that transparency has been lacking from the Wolf administration, noting that the Governor and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine have used the state’s Disease Prevention & Control Act of 1955 to withhold live-saving pandemic information from the public.
Similarly, Mastriano referenced the Governor’s ineffective business waiver shutdown, where winners and losers were chosen, without being provided specific rationale. Wolf is fighting a subpoena seeking information about what protocols – if any – were used during the business waiver program.
“The Governor’s waiver process was ineffective, lacked accountability and oversight, and was riddled with unconstitutional powers,” said Mastriano. “We still have not seen a definition for a life-sustaining business. Sadly, many of these businesses will never reopen.”
The unclear edicts have also changed on a regular basis, added Mastriano.
Earlier this year, the administration imposed stay-at-home orders and put into place restrictions that forced non-life-sustaining businesses to close. Since then, many of those restrictions have been lifted, however new restrictions impacting the restaurant industry and group gatherings have been put into place.
Judge Stickman’s court order concludes by stating “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.”
“The Constitution cannot accept the concept of a ‘new normal’ where the basic liberties of the people can be subordinated to open-ended emergency mitigation measures,” wrote Judge Stickman.
Mastriano reacted: “This is a great day in Pennsylvania as Judge Stickman has struck down the autocratic dictates and edicts of Governor Wolf.”
“The judge affirmed my unwavering position over the past six months that the Governor has violated our constitutional rights and trampled upon our basic freedoms. He has grossly exceeded and abused his power, all for the sake of political gain,” continued Mastriano. “Although the Governor claims that his intentions were good, it was clear that his decisions were consistently inconsistent. Without regard to his oath, he infringed on God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as no other governor has done in Pennsylvania history.”
“Governor Wolf and his failed Health Secretary – whose resignation must happen now – have ruined the lives of countless thousands of our citizens and condemned to death over 5,000 of our beloved elderly via Dr. Levine’s unparalleled incompetence,” concluded Mastriano. “His edicts, rules and unconstitutional proclamations have been struck down, and it is time we shake off the fetters of bondage he has placed upon us, and choose to walk as free people.”