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Judge Blocks Pritzker From Enforcing Coronavirus Executive Order

  • May 24, 2020
  • News
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LOUISVILLE, IL — Following a challenge from a local lawmaker to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s modified stay-at-home order, a Clay County judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the governor’s executive order.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, a Xenia Republican, filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a judge to declare the governor overstepped his authority each time he extended the effective date of his emergency order declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a statewide disaster.

“I filed this lawsuit on behalf of myself and my constituents who are ready to go back to work and resume a normal life,” Bailey said in a statement announcing the suit.

On Thursday, Pritzker announced a modified version of his executive order mandating social distancing and limiting many activities in an effort to reduce the coronavirus’ spread throughout the state. The modifications relaxed some restrictions while adding new requirements, such as mandatory face coverings in many public places, and extending the order through the end of May.

Representatives of the governor’s office sought a continuance in the case, but were rebuffed by Judge McHaney. Following a hearing Monday, McHaney ruled that Pritzker cannot enforce his March 20 executive order against Bailey and cannot enter “any further Executive Orders against Darren Bailey forcing him to isolate and quarantine in his home,” according to the order.

“[Bailey] has shown he has a clearly ascertainable right in need of immediate protection, namely his liberty interest to be free from Pritzker’s executive order of quarantine in his own home,” McHaney wrote.

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Bailey, who currently represents the 109th District in the Illinois House and is running unopposed in to succeed Sen. Dale Righter representing the 55th District in the Illinois Senate, spoke to reporters outside the courthouse after Judge Michael McHaney ruled in his favor Monday.

“This is what we fear in America. This is when freedom, when our Constitution comes under attack, when it is ignored, when we as citizens fail to understand and know the truth, and don’t look for it, then our liberties are threatened and that’s how I felt from day one,” Bailey said.

The order, which lawyers for the state are expected to immediately appeal, applies only to Rep. Bailey. According to WCIA, McHaney said during the hearing the governor’s extensions to the initial stay-at-home order “shredded the Constitution” and violated his constitutional right to fish on a lake.

“We are reviewing the order and considering our options for appeal in consultation with the governor’s office,” said Tori Joseph, a spokesperson for Raoul’s office.

House Speaker Mike Madigan, who has not convened a meeting of the Illinois General Assembly since the governor’s initial disaster declaration, released the following statement Monday in response to McHaney’s ruling.

“Like Governor Pritzker, I find Representative Bailey’s lawsuit to be extremely reckless, at a time we can least afford it. The governor’s actions have consistently reflected an understanding that, as we face this crisis, we must be guided by what is right — not what is easy, comfortable or expedient. Clearly, we cannot say the same for all the leaders of our state,” Madigan said. “It is my sincere hope that upon further review, this decision is reversed, and that our health care workers, first responders and loved ones are not unnecessarily subjected to added risk by such a short-sighted lawsuit.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also issued a statement in response to the ruling. She said nothing about the ruling would change the city’s intention to continue enforcing the stay-at-home order.

“Today’s ruling is troubling and wrong. I understand that the State Attorney General’s office will appeal this ruling, which we support. One of the many problems with this ill-advised opinion is that it will destroy the collective progress we have made, giving Illinoisans the wrong impression that we have beaten the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lightfoot said.

“Let me remind everyone that the Governor’s Stay at Home Order has played a crucial role in our data-driven, robust response to COVID-19. In fact, recently published City data has shown that staying at home and limiting human interaction is one of the major reasons why Chicago is beginning to see the flattening of the curve. And let me be clear, this does not mean that we can, nor should, return to our normal day-to-day lives, in fact it means the opposite.”

At his daily briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic, Pritzker, a Chicago Democrat, suggested Monday the downstate Republican lawmaker’s actions may lead to deaths.

“People are in danger as a result of the judge’s ruling, of the suit that was brought by Darren Bailey. We certainly are going to act in a swift fashion to try to have this ruling overturned — certainly put a stay in place,” Pritzker said. “Frankly, it’s insulting, it’s dangerous and peoples’ safety and health has now been put at risk. There may be people who contract coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done now.”

Read the complaint, briefs and Judge Michael McHaney’s April 27 temporary restraining order in Bailey v. Pritzker – Clay County Circuit Court Case No. 2020-CH-6 »

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