BY: KDKA-TV’s Jennifer Borrasso
WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — A Washington County commissioner said a federal judge’s ruling that the state’s pandemic restrictions are unconstitutional is a “huge victory.”
On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration says it will appeal the judge’s ruling. Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties — and some Republican officials like Congressman Mike Kelly and state Reps. Marcie Mustello, Daryl Metcalfe and Tim Bonner — filed a lawsuit against Gov. Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.
The judge’s new ruling effectively restricts the state from setting gathering limits, imposing stay-at-home orders and closing businesses.
“This is the entire state of Pennsylvania,” said Nick Sherman, a Washington County commissioner. “The action that we put against the judge was, did he overstep the American constitutional rights and civil liberties of the people of the state of Pennsylvania? And Judge (William) Stickman today ruled in our favor.”
“Today is a huge victory for our businesses in Washington County, and this opens up a lot of questions,” said Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan. “It shows where boundaries are.”
KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso also talked to Leslie Osche, the chairperson of the Butler County Board of Commissioners.
“I am happy that Butler County initiated this legal action on behalf of our business constituents whose lives and livelihoods were disrupted if not lost through denial of fundamental liberties. We continue to uphold our personal moral responsibility for taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus,” Osche said.
The attorneys representing Butler, Greene, Fayette and Washington counties say the case didn’t seek monetary damages. But moving forward, it is likely that individual business owners may file their own lawsuits.
A Washington County commissioner said he is getting calls from parents about crowds at sporting events. Right now, there is no limit.
The state has 30 days to appeal the ruling.