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Friends of Devito v. Wolf

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

April 13, 2020, Decided

No. 68 MM 2020

Opinion

JUSTICE DONOHUE

Petitioners are four Pennsylvania businesses and one individual seeking extraordinary relief from Governor Wolf's March 19, 2020 order (the "Executive Order") compelling the closure of the physical operations of all non-life-sustaining business to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus disease ("COVID-19"). The businesses of the Petitioners were classified as non-life-sustaining.1 In an Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief (the "Emergency Application") filed on March 24, 2020, Petitioners raise a series of statutory and constitutional challenges to the Executive Order, contending that the Governor lacked any statutory authority to issue it and that, even if he did have such statutory authority, it violates various of their constitutional rights. Petitioners assert that the exercise of this Court's King's Bench jurisdiction is not only warranted but essential given the unprecedented scope and consequence of the Executive Order on businesses in the Commonwealth. Petitioners' Brief at [*2]  12-13. They request further that this Court issue an order vacating or striking down the Executive Order. Respondents, Governor Tom Wolf ("Governor") and Rachel Levine, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health ("Secretary") (collectively, "Respondents") respond that the Petitioners rely on an unduly narrow interpretation of the Commonwealth's inherent police powers and a flawed reading of the specific statutory provisions that the General Assembly enacted to supplement that power. Respondents' Brief at 2. Respondents further argue that the Executive Order comports with all constitutional requirements. Respondents agree with Petitioners that the circumstances warrant the exercise of this Court's King's Bench jurisdiction and urge this Court to exercise that jurisdiction to decide the issues presented. Respondents' Brief at 7.

For the reasons discussed in this opinion, we hereby exercise our King's Bench jurisdiction. After consideration of the arguments of the parties, we conclude that Petitioners are not entitled to relief.

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2020 Pa. LEXIS 1987 *

FRIENDS OF DANNY DEVITO, KATHY GREGORY, B&J LAUNDRY, LLC, BLUEBERRY HILL PUBLIC GOLF COURSE & LOUNGE, AND CALEDONIA LAND COMPANY, Petitioners v. TOM WOLF, GOVERNOR, AND RACHEL LEVINE, SECRETARY OF PA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, Respondents

CORE TERMS

Emergency, disaster, executive order, Pennsylvania, Petitioners', police power, Assembly, non-life-sustaining, spread, disease, regulation, life-sustaining, deprivation, mitigation, closure, https, distancing, powers, coronavirus, prevention, pandemic, procedural due process, due process, cases, public health, Supplemental, natural disaster, golf course, proclamations, constitutes

Constitutional Law, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Governments, Courts, Creation & Organization, The Judiciary, Authority to Adjudicate, State & Territorial Governments, Employees & Officials, Public Health & Welfare Law, Social Services, Emergency Services, Police Powers, Legislation, Interpretation, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Reviewability, Equal Protection, Nature & Scope of Protection, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Time, Place & Manner Restrictions