Like most Democratically ran states, Pennsylvania imposed rather strict guidelines related to COVID-19 in the spring of this year. Also, like most, it wasn’t long before their citizens started to feel the burden of being locked down, unable to work. And so one restaurant decided to defy the governor’s orders and open their doors anyway.
Enter Taste of Sicily, a small Italian eatery in Lebanon County, PA.
The place is owned by siblings Michael Mangano and Christine Wartluft, who decided to reopen their doors in May to the public so that they wouldn’t be forced into bankruptcy and the loss of their dreams as so many others have.
Naturally, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf slapped the eatery with huge fines, amounting to nearly $10,000. The restaurant’s owners were barely making ends meet on the home front, let alone when it came to the business, so paying the fine was out of the question. But as co-owner Mangano said, it was also a matter of principle.
And so he gave the state’s leadership an answer, “I’m not paying crap.” And his sister Christine was just as furious. She said in a video taken shortly after they were served with another citation for $4000, “And you call yourselves an American, giving hard-working people a fine? It’s ridiculous.”
Of course, this didn’t exactly sit too well with the tyrannical Wolf, so he took them to court to demand the payment.
But thanks to Taste of Sicily’s lawyer Eric Winter and Judge Carly Garvey, the restaurant won their case against the state.
Winter argued that because the governor’s mandates and the state’s Department of Health were not laws, perse, or at least not constitutional ones, they could not be enforced. Of course, this also means that no one can be punished for not adhering to them.
He told the Daily Caller, “It is very questionable as to whether the law allows the Department of Health to issue orders as it did. It is not possible for a criminal penalty to be imposed for violating the orders.”
And he continued, “the mask mandate, the plexiglass, the social distancing, all of those things that the governor and (Secretary of Health Rachel) Levine were implementing are not an enforceable citation. In other words, they can’t legally enforce that. this says that any fine that you get from the state is legally non-enforceable.”
And this isn’t the first time Wolf has been reprimanded, so to speak, for his “enforcement” of COVID mandates.
Last month a federal judge ruled that his restrictions and lockdown orders were actually unconstitutional. And as such, they couldn’t be enforced. Both this court and the one that held the case for Taste of Sicily seem to imply that if “laws” are going to be punishable by any means, they have to be actually written into law by some sort of legislature and then signed over as such.
No matter what is going on, the governor can’t simply decide to make up rules and then punish people for not adhering to them.
According to WHP-TV, Judge Garvey “ruled the family business was unconstitutionally cited and the restaurant was found not guilty.”
One interesting thing to note here is that the county where the restaurant is located is no stranger to Wolf’s apparent rage and punishment. Lebanon County has long been a Republican stronghold, with most locally elected officials and business owners supporting reopening.
In fact, the governor seemed to try and make an example out of the county earlier in the year. When leaders failed to consent to Wolf’s lockdown measures, he withheld $13 million in COVID-19 relief funds.
It was the only county to have been treated as such.
But at least for now, the county has one small win. Taste of Sicily will not have to pay its fines, and it seems it will be able to reopen in peace.
Time will only tell if the governor will appeal the court’s decision. After all, he can’t let people believe that he’s not in charge, right?