Skip to Content


Friends of DeVito v. Wolf (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, April 13, 2020): The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Governor Wolf’s order closing all non-life-sustaining businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs (golf club, realtors, and political candidate’s campaign) challenged the order on state and federal law grounds. The Governor’s order was found to be a proper exercise of police powers under gubernatorial powers pursuant to a declared “natural disaster” under the Commonwealth’s Emergency Code. Governor Wolf’s action did not usurp legislative power in violation of separation of powers. The order  also did not impose a regulatory taking because the businesses were not deprived of all value of their property, the measure was  temporary, and there was a profound public health need. Plaintiffs’ procedural due process was preserved via a waiver process allowing businesses to challenge their designation as non-life-sustaining. Plaintiffs’ 1st Amendment rights to assemble, particularly related to political campaign workers, were not unconstitutional infringed because they are still able to communicate and work on the campaign through avenues other than face-to-face. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 1, 2020.

View all cases under “Public Health Emergency: Legal Preparedness & Response.”