Butler Co. attorney files lawsuits against Gov. Wolf, says new COVID-19 mandates are unconstitutional

BUTLER CO., Pa. — At least two lawsuits have been filed already after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a three-week mandate, shutting down certain businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Butler-based attorney Tom King has filed two lawsuits related to these new health orders, saying the basis for them is that Wolf’s orders are unconstitutional.

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The first suit is on behalf of Conley’s Water Park -- based along Route 8 in Butler County -- which is owned by Saint Barnabas. The lawsuit claims CDC guidelines show the virus does not spread in water, so there is no reason for businesses like water parks to have to close.

The second lawsuit, on behalf of the Butler Area School District, alleges the school board -- not the Pa. Department of Education -- should make decisions on when school opens and closes.

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King cited examples of “big-box” stores being allowed to stay open while smaller, “mom-and-pop” stores have been forced to shut down during the pandemic.

He said students staying home and doing virtual learning has been a juggling act for most school districts. According to King, many districts are being told one thing one week and something else the next.

He told Channel 11 he believes the governor has no authority to tell individual school districts how to run.

“The local school boards have the authority to decide what day school is going to be open, what day it’s going to be closed, where it’s going to be, whether it’s going to be live or virtual,” King said. “(Those) powers have been usurped by the governor.”

Wolf’s administration intends to fight both lawsuits, saying the three-week mandate is meant to flatten the curve and save lives.