Attorney General asks Illinois Supreme Court to take over Rep. Bailey lawsuit

State News

File-In this Aug. 27, 2014 file photo,the Illinois Supreme Court chamber is highlighted during a media tour of the Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield, Ill. Seven Democrats are vying for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court once held by the high court’s first black justice in Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2020, Illinois Primary. Democrat Charles Freeman held the post from 1990 to 2018, when he retired. Freeman died March 2 at 86. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Supreme Court has accepted Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s motion to directly appeal a downstate judge’s ruling that temporarily allows a state representative to ignore the governor’s stay-at-home order.

This comes after both Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed appeals for the state’s highest court to overturn Clay County judge Michael McHaney’s ruling that temporarily exempts State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) from Pritzker’s extended order. However, it does not necessarily mean the Supreme Court will hear the case. The court could ultimately decline and it would go back to the fifth circuit appellate court.

Bailey sued the governor, saying he exceeded his authority by extending the stay-at-home order beyond 30 days. He said the renewal infringed on his right to liberty.

Pritzker and Raoul are urging the Illinois Supreme Court to halt McHaney’s ruling from taking effect for the time being, until arguments can be held. According to Pritzker’s appeal, the judge’s decision and labeling of the executive order being “unconstitutional” undermines the state’s “disaster response.”

Traditionally, the Illinois Appellate Court has to first rule on an appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court hears a case, but there have been rare cases that went directly to the high court, according to CBS Chicago.

“Because COVID-19 has killed over 2,000 Illinois residents and continues to infect more, and because the circuit court’s ruling threatens the governor’s authority to protect the public from the virus, the public interest requires an expeditious and definitive determination of this appeal by this court,” the state argued in the court filing.

Raoul issued the following statement:

Earlier this week, the 4th Judicial Circuit Court held that the threat to public safety that is posed by COVID-19 is outweighed by Mr. Bailey’s interest in not complying with the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

We continue to assert that Mr. Bailey has failed to articulate the irreparable harm he is personally experiencing or how that harm outweighs the unprecedented threat to public health and safety. Using the authority of his office granted by the Illinois Constitution and the Illinois General Assembly, Gov. Pritzker has implemented emergency measures that have saved lives during a crisis that has cost Illinois so much. In fighting the threat to public safety, Gov. Pritzker has not exceeded his authority under the law by taking emergency action for longer than 30 days.

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our state, and government must balance the critical need to save lives with the economic hardships being felt by residents throughout Illinois. Governors have historically renewed disaster declarations to meet the challenges of disasters that last longer than 30 days without objection, and a pandemic should be no different.

I am asking the appellate court to address this mistaken circuit court decision now. In addition, I believe that it is paramount for the Illinois Supreme Court to take up this matter immediately because continued uncertainty surrounding this question will lead to additional actions — as we have seen today — that threaten the Governor’s ability to save lives.

AG Kwame Raoul

Both Pritzker and Raoul’s appeals mention that former governors Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn also issued multiple declarations for single disasters, including the H1N1 virus outbreak in 2009, and for flooding.

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