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Judge denies Gov. Wolf’s motion to stay after some COVID-19 orders ruled unconstitutional

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge denied Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf’s motion to stay a week after some of his COVID-19 orders at the beginning of the pandemic were ruled unconstitutional.

In the ruling, Judge William Stickman cited the large number of protests in the state -- along with the Carlisle car show in Cumberland County that was allowed to go on despite the heavy gathering restrictions -- as some of the reasons for why the stay was denied.

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Tuesday’s ruling said some of the orders given out by Wolf and other Pa. health officials violated the first and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The judge said that the governor’s claim that there would be “immediate and irreparable harm” if they could not impose these kind of restrictions was not supported by how the state allowed certain things to continue.

Butler County attorney Tom King led the charge in filing the lawsuit that led to the unconstitutional ruling on behalf of multiple western Pa. counties.

“You cannot lock 13 million Pennsylvanians in their home, you cannot mandate them,” King said. “That is unconstitutional, and we are pleased with the judge’s opinion.”

Meanwhile, Wolf told Channel 11 he will appeal this decision to the third circuit court.

“Regardless of what a judge rules or a governor does, the people of Pennsylvania are showing that they don’t want to get this virus and they are staying away from crowds,” Wolf said.

Law professor Bruce Ledewitz weighed in as well, saying the judge’s motivation was based on the his belief that his original ruling would have no chance being overturned.

“The judge is holding that the same arguments and evidence that they presented -- that weren’t enough to convince the judge of the constitutionality of the actions of the governor -- are not enough to convince him of the likelihood of success on appeal,” Ledewitz said.

Moving forward, Ledewitz said there is a chance that Stickman’s decision could be overturned by the Third Circuit Court, primarily because of the governor’s claim that more people will die if crowd limitations are not enforced.

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