Latest Challenge to Wolf Business Closure Order Unsuccessful
The latest challenge to Governor Wolf’s Business Closure Orders was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania seeking a Temporary Restraining Order. The case known as Benner v. Wolf, 20-cv-775 was filed on behalf of a GOP House candidate, real estate agent, barber shop owner, partner in a formal wear business and the owner of a consulting services business all located in Perry or Delaware counties. The Petition alleges a variety of constitutional and state law claims.
The standard for obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order or a Preliminary Injunction is a showing by the Plaintiff “that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.” The Court found that Petitioners could not show that they were likely to succeed on the merits of the following claims: Procedural Due Process, Substantive Due Process, Unjust Taking, Payment for Use of Petitioner’s Property, Equal Protection, First Amendment violations, the Guarantee Clause, Freedom of Religion and the Right to a Public Education.
The Court sympathized with the Petitioners but had to consider the circumstances under which the Governor’s orders were issued. “When faced with the real possibility that thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose their lives to COVID-19, the Governor took swift, reasonable action to prevent more widespread destruction – that the Pennsylvania death rate is not higher is a sign of the Orders’ efficacy, not their irrelevance.” It is not up to the Court to question the reasonable motives of elected officials and a Temporary Restraining Order cannot be granted based on political disagreements with the Orders. There are plenty of reasons for residents to disagree with the Governor’s means for fighting the pandemic but there is no legal basis for enjoining them. The Temporary Restraining Order was therefore denied.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.