CF Amicus Brief Calls out Wolf for Overstepping his Authority
Commonwealth Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of Wolf v. Scarnati et. al.—arguing that the Governor must follow the legislature’s concurrent resolution to end the declaration of emergency.
Summary of our brief:
- Timeline: CF provided the court a timeline of Gov. Wolf’s actions and legislative response.
This includes Gov. Wolf vetoing legislation to reopen certain businesses, then unilaterally implementing most of that legislation; Gov. Wolf’s refusal to disclose information about the business waiver process, and Gov. Wolf ignoring parts of his own orders, leading to the bipartisan passage of the resolution.
- Economic Data: CF provided the court its data and analysis of the lost jobs and record-setting unemployment—and evidence Wolf’s actions made unemployment more severe—along with Department of Health trends showing hospitals were never close to being overwhelmed in terms of available beds or available ventilators. CF’s charts can be found here.
- Argument: CF's brief makes three key arguments. First, the Emergency Code requires Gov. Wolf to end a declared emergency after passage of concurrent resolution. This differs from other laws describing legislative oversight, such as the Regulatory Review Act.
In addition, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the legislature has delegated authority to the governor during a declared emergency, but can terminate that authority “at any time.”
Finally, only the General Assembly has the power to suspend laws. Gov. Wolf’s suspension of laws during an emergency can only happen with the authority of the legislature—and he no longer has that consent.
Another brief filed by Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs and joined by the Manufacturer & Business Association, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business Pennsylvania is available here.