Pa. high court dismisses challenge to Wolf shutdown order

AP News
March 23, 2020 - 11:07 am

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By Mark Scolforo and Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Gov. Tom Wolf's authority to shutter businesses determined to be "non-life-sustaining," paving the way for enforcement to begin Monday.

Without comment, a majority of the state's high court late Sunday denied the petition by a gun shop, a gun purchaser and a law firm to have Wolf's shutdown order thrown out. The lawsuit had claimed Wolf's edict violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms and other constitutional rights.

The court also said a legal challenge to Wolf's order to close law offices had become moot because of subsequent action that lets lawyers work from their physical locations to perform duties deemed essential by county or federal judges.

Related: The latest coronavirus news from Pennsylvania and New Jersey

The Democratic governor has ordered all nonessential businesses to close their physical locations indefinitely, saying the measure is needed to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

In a dissenting statement joined by two other justices, Justice David Wecht said Wolf's order amounts to "an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this commonwealth — a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment" and the state constitution. He called on Wolf to make some allowance for the in-person sale of firearms.

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