Wolf responds to judge's ruling on Pa.'s pandemic restrictions, promises to appeal

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday promised to appeal a federal judges ruling that struck down the state's pandemic restrictions and called them 'unconstitutional.'

Wolf addressed the ruling during a press conference on election procedures Tuesday morning.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV ruled  pandemic restrictions that required people to stay at home, placed size limits on gatherings and ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down are unconstitutional

Stickman, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, sided with plaintiffs that included hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders in their lawsuit against Wolf, a Democrat, and his health secretary.

"There really isn't any sense in debating a case that we're actually appealing," Wolf said Tuesday. "I just want to point out that what is not up for debate is that the early and decisive action that Secretary Levine, my administration, and I took early on in this pandemic saved lives."

"The federal government dithered. That's exactly what they did. And while they did that, Pennsylvania took action," Wolf added.

Stickman wrote in his ruling that the governor’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency. But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered."

Wolf admitted that, in hindsight, there are things he would have done differently in his response to the pandemic.

"We have learned a lot of things about the pandemic. But, I would never follow the irresponsible demands of the president or the republican legislature. Absolutely not," the democratic governor said Tuesday. "Do we want to be responsible to our families, to each other, and take steps to mitigate the spread of this virus? This virus has taken the lives of 200,000 Americans. Do we just sort of want to cave-in to that, or do we want to do something about it?"

Wolf went on to say that he believes the "vast majority" of Pennsylvanians understand the steps the state took at the beginning of the pandemic was "necessary to buy the time to keep people safe."

"The vast majority simply don't buy into the conspiracy theories or fear mongering from the president, or from the Harrisburg republicans, about this virus," Wolf stated.

In recent months, Wolf has eased  many of the restrictions the plaintiffs objected to in their lawsuit,  but the judge's ruling noted that the administration had merely suspended those measures and could reimpose them at will.

MORE: Judge strikes down Pennsylvania's coronavirus restrictions, Wolf administration to appeal

The judge said the plaintiffs did not challenge Wolf's occupancy limits, and his ruling does not impact those orders. Nor did the lawsuit challenge the Wolf administration’s order requiring people to wear masks in public.

Another federal judge, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick, recently dismissed parts of a separate lawsuit that challenged Wolf’s business shutdown

Pennsylvania has reported that more than 145,000 people statewide have contracted the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 7,800 people have died.


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