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Federal Court Rules Pennsylvania Lockdowns Were Unconstitutional

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Since the coronavirus pandemic, several governors have exerted unprecedented powers under the guise of taming the outbreak. The initial control many governors implemented was meant to “slow the spread,” which was accomplished months ago.

Now, months later, with hospitals nowhere near the point of being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the extraordinary power wielded by governors continues. From mask mandates to limitations on indoor dining and the continued shutdowns of schools, many Americans are wondering if and when this “new normal” will ever end.

Nanny state governors are far from the only oppressive force at this point, but, finally, some are facing lawsuits over their unconstitutional orders. For Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, his reign as king may soon come to a screeching halt.

Two families are airing their grievances with their governor in a profound way. While many have protested at governor’s mansions or ranted on social media platforms about their disdain for the draconian actions their governors have wrought during this pandemic, these couples have taken it a step further by filing a lawsuit against Wolf’s shutdown policies over the past six months.

They are suing several officials, including Gov. Wolf, arguing the emergency powers implemented inflicted on their constitutional rights. According to the lawsuit, Wolf’s mask mandate and contact tracing program infringe on their constitutionally protected individual rights.They are 100 percent correct.

Fortunately, victory was had on Sept. 14, whenU.S. District Court Judge William Stickman IV ruled that the actions of Gov. Wolf were in fact unconstitutional. Stickman wrote in his ruling, “The Wolf administration’s pandemic policies have been overreaching and arbitrary and violated citizen’s constitutional rights.”

Ironically, the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania house a quote by Benjamin Franklin,“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This quote couldn’t be truer.

Businesses, livelihoods, and families have been put in peril for months by governors who do not respect the Constitution. And for many states, there is no end to this madness in sight.

Throughout the country, nearly 100,000 small businesses have been forced to close indefinitely due to overreaching and constitutionally dubious regulations. It would be wise for politicians to take notice of this case and remember that they work for “we the people,” not vice-versa.

The most primary role of government is to protect individual liberty from being infringed upon. Sadly, in this case, and many others, it is the government that is the infringer. This means that current protocols in place by Wolf, which include lockdowns, mask mandates, social gathering limitations, etc. should be null and void. Of course, Wolf is appealing this ruling, pledging that he will go forward with his policies.

During these trying times, where COVID-19 “safety protocols” implemented by pompous governors have resulted in bankrupt businesses, sky-high unemployment, and several other significant problems, there is at least some comfort in knowing that individual rights are still paramount under the Constitution.

Hopefully, the actions of these brave Pennsylvanians will ignite more Americans to push back on unconstitutional actions by out-of-control governors. After all, it is up to “we the people” to hold our political leaders accountable when they blatantly abuse their power and make a mockery of the Constitution.

Christina Herrin ( is the government relations manager of Health Policy at The Heartland Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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