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Probably Not Constitutional

Mayor Helen Thomas of Darby is a MAIG mayor, so we should not be surprised to find out she doesn’t have much respect for other civil liberties either. Apparently she’s imposing a state of emergency:

An 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew is in effect for adults and juveniles for at least 10 days.

Anyone outside during that time can be stopped and questioned by police, though Police Chief Bob Smythe says they’re more concerned about groups loitering or causing trouble.

I’m somewhat familiar with Pennsylvania’s emergency powers statutes, and I do not believe that anyone in Pennsylvania has the authority to declare a state of emergency except the Governor. Even then, the statute does not give the Governor the power to suspend constitutional rights.

Thomas is also going to have difficulty with the Supreme Court case of Papachristou v. Jacksonville. It seems quite unlikely to me that a curfew imposed on adults, by a mayor likely acting outside of her legal powers, in response to ordinary crime, rather than riot or disaster, would pass constitutional muster.

10 Responses to “Probably Not Constitutional”

  1. Alpheus says:

    Here’s another reason to question it: do we really expect that all adults in Philadelphia will know about the emergency restrictions? It seems arrogant to me to suppose that every adult is connected to them enough that they will automatically know what is going on–especially without riots or disasters!

    Visitors will especially be susceptible to such an emergency declaration.

    That, and how would such a declaration affect the livelihoods of those who work at night?

  2. Darn. I live too far away now to set up an open carry walk through Darby at 9pm. Maybe someone else would like to do it.

  3. David says:

    Anyone free tomorrow night? Want to go test this policy?

  4. Chas says:

    Vote that MAIG mother of the devil out of office!

  5. flighterdoc says:

    Too bad she won’t be personally liable for the costs the citizens incurred when this ill-founded law is found unconstitutional.

    If public officials didn’t enjoy immunity, there would be less nonsense like this.

  6. John Williams says:

    A quick Google search reveals the same tactics used on September 4, 2009 in Darby, PA.

    Keywords “State of emergency darby pennsylvania”

    In agreement with questioning the constitutionality of this “State of emergency”, which is usually a power reserved to the State.

  7. Drang says:

    8PM? Really? No theaters or restaurants there?
    And… what time does the sun go down now? “Man arrested for sitting on his front porch in violation of curfew!”

  8. Patrick says:

    And add to all the other issues the Equal Protection issue. Seems they are only worried about ‘certain people’ who might be in groups and loitering…

    So the middle class (white) couple can go to dinner in their Lexus without being subject to police action. But what about a couple of young black guys – wearing sweats and looking disheveled – heading for burgers after a pick-up game at the park?

    If one class of person is exempt from the law, then all classes must be exempt from the law. Targeting “groups” of “suspicious” people is highly suspect. If there were truly reasonable suspicion to target a group of loitering people (reasonable expectation of a crime), then no special :state of emergency” would be required. The law can do this today.

    The only reason the mayor did this is because they want to stop and question certain people without cause. They want to force certain people to not associate with one another in public places.

    The fact that they openly admit they are going to be selective in their enforcement shows either remarkable idiocy or contempt of civil rights. I suspect a little of both.

  9. Weer'd Beard says:

    That’s why I never call them “Anti-Gun” they are “Anti-freedom”, Guns just happen to be a major talking point for these people.

    There is no right they respect, nor anything they aren’t willing to ban.

    They want to ban guns, yes, but they’ll also ban Knives, trans-fats, cars, salt, Going out after 8, and anything listed in the US constitution as a protected human right.

    Calling them “Anti-Gun” is too generous.

  10. Bill says:

    Unfortunately, i cant sympathize for people who chose to vote this tyrant in office, just like i couldnt sympathize for people in chicago, who continually voted in Daley, all those years, live and learn, learn to vote the right way

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