Pennsylvania Judicial Center

Business Groups File Amici Brief in Wolf v. Scarnati King’s Bench Case

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HARRISBURG, June 23, 2020—Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs—joined by the Manufacturer & Business Association, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business Pennsylvania—today filed an amici brief in Wolf v. Scarnati, asking the state Supreme Court to consistently apply and abide by its recent decision in Friends of Danny DeVito v. Wolf which held “that the General Assembly by concurrent resolution may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time.”

“Just a few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provided clear guidance on the constitutional and legal mechanism by which the General Assembly can end a governor’s disaster declaration,” commented Commonwealth Partners President and CEO Matt Brouillette. “The General Assembly followed the court’s guidance and passed a concurrent resolution terminating Gov. Wolf’s disaster declaration—yet Gov. Wolf refuses to comply with the law or with the court’s clear guidance. We ask the court to uphold its own ruling, remind the governor of the same, and direct him to terminate his declaration in accordance with the law.”

Brouillette added, “Pennsylvania businesses have suffered tremendously under Gov. Wolf’s business closure order. Our law provides a system of checks and balances on the governor’s powers. The General Assembly has exercised its authority to check the governor’s actions, and we urge the court to uphold this constitutional safeguard.”

“For months, Gov. Wolf has taken Pennsylvania into uncharted territory,” said David N. Taylor, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. “As we seek a path forward, we must abide by our state constitution and the rule of law. Gov. Wolf’s continued unilateral actions and disregard for the Legislature’s responsibilities and authority are a threat to representative self-government, which is why we are respectfully petitioning the court to uphold our constitution and our laws, particularly in times of crisis.”

To this, Gordon Denlinger, Pennsylvania State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, added, “State lawmakers—with bipartisan support—exercised their legal and constitutional authority to end Gov. Wolf’s disaster declaration by concurrent resolution. They did so after showing extreme patience over many weeks with the governor’s ever-changing orders, malleable metrics, and vague guidelines—all of which have inflicted untold pain on Pennsylvania’s business community. We ask that the court follow its recent guidance and uphold the Legislature’s resolution.”

John Krahe, President and CEO of the Manufacturer & Business Association, noted, “At stake in this ruling is the bedrock principle of checks and balances. The state Supreme Court recently emphasized that this system is in place to counterbalance the broad powers granted to the governor. We cannot allow our local businesses and those they employ to continue to suffer, many facing permanent closure at the hand of the governor’s rules absent the voice of their duly elected legislators. We hope the court upholds this principle over politics and, in so doing, upholds the Legislature’s resolution.”

Brouillette concluded, “Gov. Wolf’s shutdown has extended far beyond its original goal of flattening the curve and ensuring hospital capacity and far, far beyond its original two-week timeframe. And still, he has provided no timeframe or standards for fully reopening. The General Assembly rightly recognized Pennsylvanians cannot live under this type of unilateral rulemaking indefinitely. The Legislature was right to end Gov. Wolf’s declaration, and our hope is that the court will once again recognize the authority of the legislative branch to counterbalance the governor’s powers.”

Matt Brouillette is available for further comment. Contact Gina Diorio at gina@thecommonwealthpartners.comor 862-703-6670 to arrange an interview.

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Commonwealth Partners is an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(6) membership organization dedicated to improving the economic environment in Pennsylvania.