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Federal judge denies governor's request for stay on pandemic restrictions ruling

September 22, 2020 News Extra

Gov. Tom Wolf's request for a stay on a federal ruling that found his administration's coronavirus mitigation orders were unconstitutional was rejected Tuesday.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh on Tuesday denied a stay of his ruling that found Gov. Tom Wolf's shutdown orders issued in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge William Stickman IV issued a 15-page order, in which he cited in part the governor's less than negligible likelihood of winning on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, for his decision to deny the stay.

Stickman also said the public interest would be harmed by a stay.

“The public has an interest in constitutional governance,” he wrote, “and, more specifically not being subject to unconstitutional governmental action.”

Butler attorney Tom King, lead attorney for the plaintiffs who represented Butler and three other counties, four Republican lawmakers and several small businesses, who sued the Wolf administration, said he was “pleased” with Tuesday's ruling.

“It vindicates the position taken by the commissioners in Butler County to initiate this litigation and it vindicates the position we've taken all along which is that 13 million Pennsylvanians had their constitutional rights violated by the governor and the secretary of health,” he said.

Read more in Wednesday's Butler Eagle.