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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy unconcerned by ruling declaring Pennsylvania shutdown order unconstitutional

Federal Judge ruled Gov. Tom Wolf’s order unconstitutional Monday

By Nikita Biryukov, September 16 2020 2:44 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t concerned that a Pennsylvania federal court’s ruling striking down the state’s shutdown order would extend across the Delaware River.

“Pennsylvania is a different reality than New Jersey,” Murphy said during Wednesday’s virus briefing. “We have our own constitution and our own rules of the road. We wouldn’t be putting these executive orders out as we do without having thought deeply about their viability and their efficacy and I feel completely comfortable as I sit here today that what we have done will withstand the test of time, will withstand legal challenges, etc.”

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge William Stickman IV, a Trump nominee, issued a ruling that said Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D-Penn.) shutdown order violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.

Analysts have said the case is unlikely to serve as precedent in future suits, though it may be cited to aid a case. In either case, Wolf’s administration plans to appeal Stickman’s decision.

Murphy’s confidence doesn’t mean the case isn’t on the front office’s radar.

“We’ve certainly reviewed the decision from the Western District of Pennsylvania,” Murphy chief counsel Matt Platkin said. “I would note that we’ve had more than two dozen challenges to various orders issued by the governor and the commissioner of health in state and federal court in New Jersey. We haven’t had a single one of those orders truck down, and in fact, orders around the country have been challenged and upheld, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

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