County of Butler v. Wolf

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In County of Butler v. Wolf (Sept. 14, 2020), federal district court judge William S. Stickman struck down the Pennsylvania shutdown order by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Judge Stickman rejected deferring to state authorities to infringe on constitutional liberties, as urged by Chief Justice John Roberts, and concluded as follows:

The Court closes this Opinion as it began, by recognizing that Defendants' actions at issue here were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency. But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered. 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. There is no question that this Country has faced, and will face,emergencies of every sort. But the solution to a national crisis can never be permitted to supersede the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the foundation of the American experiment. 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. Rather, the Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency. Actions taken by Defendants crossed those lines. It is the duty of the Court to declare those actions unconstitutional. Thus, consistent with the reasons set forth above, the Court will enter judgment in favor of Plaintiffs.