The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wednesday rejected the state legislature’s resolution to end a COVID-19 executive order.
In mid-March, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared the closure of all non-essential businesses via executive order. The order prohibited dine-in restaurants and bars but allowed delivery and take out services to continue.
On June 3, 2020, the Democratic governor signed a renewal of the order for three months. The Pennsylvania House and Senate, both controlled by the Republican party, responded by passing a resolution ending the emergency order. The resolution specifically cites the Pennsylvania Constitution as giving the General Assembly the power to end a state of disaster emergency.
The court upheld Wolf’s order, noting that the resolution does not have a basis in the Pennsylvania Constitution. In the forty-page opinion, Justice Wecht wrote, “Our Constitution is clear: all concurrent resolutions, except in three narrow circumstances identified below, must be presented to the Governor for his approval or veto.” The court further characterized the resolution as constituting a “legislative veto” and rejected the application of the exceptions.
Though the opinion states an inconsistency with the Constitution, the court also remarked that the decision should not be interpreted as an endorsement or disapproval of the executive’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.