What appears to be the first constitutional challenge to #Pennsylvania Governor #Wolf’s #Covid-19 Closure Orders has been filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District (Philadelphia) Federal Court. In Schulmerich Bells, LLC et al v. Thomas W. #Wolf (Governor of Pa.) and Rachel Levine, M.D. (Pa. Sect of Health) the Plaintiffs bring class action and declaratory judgment claims challenging the constitutionality of the Governor’s Covid-19 mitigation closure orders which shut down the physical operations of many Pennsylvania businesses deemed not to be “life sustaining”. See the Complaint here:
The Complaint begins with the “takings” quote from the 5th Amendment as cited in Armstrong v. United States, 364 U.S. 40 (1960) that the guarantee that “private property shall not be taken for a public use without just compensation was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.” Interesting start in this context. The theory appears to be that the Governor has placed the “cost of these closure orders – issued for the benefit of the public – squarely upon the shoulders of private individuals and their families” without just compensation. Schulmerich, from Bucks County, is alleged to be the oldest manufacturer of orchestral quality musical handbells in the US.
Schulmerich repairs handbells and chimes and claims that Spring and Summer are its busiest seasons. Plaintiff’s claim a trickle down effect for their employees, suppliers, performing customers and so on. The company has already laid off 9 workers. The purported class is broad and appears to contemplate inclusion of anyone affected by these orders. Alleged exclusions from the class include inter alia, any persons unemployed at the time of the orders, and any persons working for companies deemed to be “life sustaining”, which were not ordered to be closed. The Plaintiffs claim that the class members could number in the millions. We will monitor this and other similar lawsuits.