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Pennsylvania’s Shutdown Order is Subject to More Scrutiny 

by Joseph V. Schaeffer

Published: May, 2020

Submission: May, 2020


Although government shutdown orders are being challenged across the country, the one issued by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf appears to be receiving particular attention.
On Tuesday, we reported that a group of petitioners led by political candidate Danny DeVito (again, not that Danny DeVito) had applied to the Supreme Court of the United States for a stay of Governor Wolf’s order pending a decision on a petition for writ of certiorari that they intend to file from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision denying their constitutional challenges. On Wednesday, Justice Alito, who receives all applications from states within the Third Circuit, ordered Governor Wolf and the other respondents to file a response by Monday, May 4. We will be watching closely for the order on the application once it is fully briefed, with a particular view toward any dissent if Justice Alito refers to the application for the full court.
In the meantime, while we await developments in the Supreme Court of the United States, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced his office will audit the Department of Community and Economic Development’s ("DCED") management of the waiver process for businesses seeking exemptions from the shutdown order. The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee in the Pennsylvania Senate signaled the start of its own investigation by voting to authorize subpoenas on Governor Wolf and the DCED Secretary for similar shutdown and waiver information.
These developments likely represent the tip of the iceberg, as businesses and individuals impacted by shutdown orders seek accountability and remedies for the impacts on their livelihoods. Spilman’s COVID-19 Task Force is closely monitoring this situation and is available to answer any questions.


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