Supreme Court declines to lift Pennsylvania COVID-19 health order

The Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request to halt an order Pennsylvania's governor entered in March to close businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The petitioners, a conservative political action committee and several businesses, told the justices that Gov. Tom Wolf's (D) executive order "has and is continuing to cause irreparable harm."

The court’s denial of the request, issued without comment, means fewer than five of the nine justices supported the petition.

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The outcome was unsurprising given the Supreme Court’s long recognition of broad government authority amid public health crises. Previously, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania also denied the petitioners' request.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania's attorney general filed a 43-page response to the justices defending the legality of Wolf’s order and urging the high court not to intervene.

“Applicants seek to upend the status quo and force Pennsylvania to prematurely reopen all business locations, regardless of public health data and contrary to the phased reopening currently underway based on that data,” the state’s attorney general Josh Shapiro wrote. 

“Such a premature precipitous action, according to experts, will cost lives,” he added.

In Pennsylvania, more than 3,300 have died and 54,800 have been sickened with the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Updated at 4:34 p.m.