COVID-19 Closure Case Arrives at SCOTUS

A number of Pennsylvania business owners have requested that the U.S. Supreme Court stay enforcement of Governor Wolf’s executive order “compelling the closure of the physical operations of all businesses and entities that he deemed to be nonlife-sustaining.”

Governor Wolf allowed non-lifesustaining businesses to apply for a waiver; 18,746 waiver applications have been denied to date.

The business owners allege the executive order amounts to an unconstitutional taking and violates a number of other constitutional rights including equal protection and free speech.

On April 13th the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled against the business owners on all of their claims. According to the business orders, three Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices concurred and dissented, “express[ing] concern that although the Executive Order is purported to be temporary, that may not be so for businesses unable to endure the revenue loss associated with being shut down.” These Justices also expressed concern that waiver denials aren’t subject to judicial review.

The business owners note this case has national implications because the Pennsylvania executive order is similar to other executive orders issued across the country.

This request went to Justice Alito who handles emergency appeals from the Third Circuit, which includes Pennsylvania. He can rule on the request alone or refer to the entire Supreme Court.