Brooks Announces News of Federal Court Ruling on Unconstitutionality of Governor’s COVID-19 Restrictions

HARRISBURG (September 14, 2020) –  Sen. Michele Brooks issued this statement in response to today’s federal court ruling:

“In the past several months, the House and Senate have passed multiple pieces of legislation that are indicative of the court’s conclusion, but many of our bills, unfortunately, were vetoed by the governor,” Sen. Brooks said.  “We believe that the governor has over-reached in his emergency declaration powers.”

State-imposed shutdown orders and limits on public gatherings aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19 were “well-intentioned” but unconstitutional, a federal court in Pittsburgh agreed.

“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,” U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV wrote in a 66-page opinion. “Rather, the Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed even in an emergency.”

He added:  “In an emergency, even a vigilant public may let down its guard over its constitutional liberties only to find that liberties, once relinquished, are hard to recoup and that restrictions – while expedient in the face of an emergency situation – may persist long after immediate danger has passed.”

“Having experienced the sweeping impact of the governor’s mandated closures, limits on public gatherings and other restrictions, it is vital that a balance of power be maintained to uphold our Constitution and preserve our freedoms while protecting the safety and well-being of Pennsylvanians,” Brooks said.

“It is my hope that the governor will now work with the General Assembly to move forward in a more collaborative, consistent and transparent way that is constitutional and reflective of the differences within each county.” 

                                                                           

Contact:            Diane McNaughton           (717) 787-1322                  dmmcnaughton@pasen.gov