U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV found that the Wolf administration’s policy limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings and events to 25 and 250 people, respectively, violates “the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment.”
The case is County of Butler, et al, v Thomas W Wolf, et al. The judge subsequently refused the Governor’s request for a stay of his order until an appeal can be made to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV said Tuesday he would not allow the mitigation measures he declared unconstitutional last week to remain in place while Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration appeals the decision.
Given that the Governor’s unconstitutional orders were in force for the six months it took the case to be heard and judged, given that the constitutional rights of Pennsylvanians were simply suspended by the Governor’s Führerbefehle, I think it’s fair that the shoe be on the other foot, and Mr Wolf’s orders not given any legal support before the Third Circuit hears and decides the case. And while the Governor has stated that he will appeal, I have not been able to find a source saying that he has actually filed that appeal yet.
Well, the Governor is at it again. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Trump’s coming to Harrisburg, and Wolf tells him to stop violating Pa.’s COVID-19 rules with ‘unsafe’ rallies
by Justine McDaniel, Andrew Seidman and Erin McCarthy | Posted: September 25, 2020 | 7:30 PM EDT
Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday asked President Donald Trump to cancel a campaign rally planned for Saturday outside Harrisburg, citing the president’s violation of state public health guidelines at previous campaign events and urging him not to expose Pennsylvanians to the coronavirus “by holding unsafe rallies.”
“Tp hold this event is not just misguided, it is dangerous, it is manipulative and it is wrong,” Wolf said Friday in a statement. “I would ask Pennsylvanians to think of the health and safety of their families and communities before attending this event or any rally put on by the Trump campaign. And I would ask the president, for once, to put the health of his constituents ahead of his own political fortunes.”
I’m guessing here that President Trump’s political fortunes are something the Governor would like to sabotage. Given that the President cheered the ruling declaring Mr Wolf’s orders unconstitutional, It isn’t much of a surprise that the Trump campaign has exactly zero plans to listen to Mr Wolf or cancel the rally.
In response, the Trump campaign said attendees at Harrisburg International Airport would have their temperatures checked, be provided with masks and encouraged to wear them, and be supplied with hand sanitizer on Saturday evening.
“If even the governor himself can join crowds of people protesting arm in arm in the streets, then certainly people can gather peacefully under the First Amendment to hear from the president of the United States,” Courtney Parrella, deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, told The Inquirer.
Governor Wolf had no problems at all with people exercising their constitutional rights to protest:
Why did Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf join a protest with hundreds of people, breaking the rules in a yellow-phase county?
By Greg Pickel | [email protected] | Updated June 6, 2020 | Posted June 5, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf seemingly violated his own coronavirus reopening orders on Wednesday.
The governor joined hundreds in a march against gun violence and racial injustice in Harrisburg, despite the fact that Dauphin County is still in the yellow phase, where gatherings are supposed to be limited to 25 people or less.
Hundreds showed up to march in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man from Minnesota. Floyd died in police custody last week after an officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he cried out that he could not breathe. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while three other officers who did not intervene are facing counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel (sic) Levine¹ have held steadfast on the idea that protesting is a civic right during the global pandemic, including when groups rallied to reopen Pennsylvania faster back in May.
Then, however, Wolf and Levine supported the civic right of gatherings but were clear about the concerns they had related to the size of those events and the potential spread of COVID-19. A similar tone was not struck earlier this week, however.
“The governor has always said that people have the right to protest, and to demonstrate, and the right to free speech, and so overall, we want large gatherings such as maybe a party or some type of concert or something, to be under 250 people,” Levine said Wednesday.
She (sic) cited the guidelines for green counties, even though they didn’t apply to Dauphin County, which was in the yellow phase at the time of the rally.
So, when it agrees with Mr Wolf’s politics and philosophy, breaking the rules he believes are vitally important to protect the health of Pennsylvanians is no big deal. When it comes to a political rally with which he disagrees, well that just can’t happen.
In 2016, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the Keystone State since the elder George Bush did it in 1988. Six weeks from now, he’s likely to repeat that success, and Governor Wolf knows it; that’s why he wants that rally canceled.
¹ – Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health is Dr Richard Levine, a male, who claims that he is a woman named Rachel.
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