CLAY COUNTY, IL — A state lawmaker who filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive authority amid the COVID-19 pandemic returns to state court Thursday, where a judge will hear his motion for summary judgment.
Illinois businesses are still operating under the restrictions Pritzker imposed more than 15 weeks ago. Two phases ago, state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, challenged the governor’s orders.
Pritzker lost an effort to move the case to federal court. The U.S. The Department of Justice sided with Bailey on that issue. The case is up for summary judgment in Clay County at 1 p.m on Thursday.
“And it is a final determination on the merits,” Bailey attorney Thomas DeVore said. Bailey and his attorney are not just asking a judge to find that the governor can’t extend emergency orders beyond 30 days.
“Besides that, we’re asking the court to find that regardless of that 30-day window, any order, executive order that closed businesses or otherwise restricted the movement of our people was beyond any authority granted the governor in the [Illinois] Emergency Management Agency Act or the constitution so those are also void,” DeVore said.
Pritzker has said the legal challenges over his orders were political grandstanding. He has said he was following the advice of medical scientists and tracking data to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Depending on the outcome, it’s possible the case could go to the Illinois Supreme Court.
DeVore filed a separate lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of parents of school children in Clay County that asks a judge to find uniform temperature checks and face-covering requirements for school districts from the Illinois State Board of Education are unenforceable policies.
The problem, DeVore said, is the policies will make returning to school chaotic and could lead to students being denied their right to quality education. The governor, he said, can’t unilaterally limit who can and can’t go to school. DeVore said the governor can only enforce laws the legislature passed, such as requiring vaccines.
“We can talk about the efficacy of that as adults, but nonetheless our legislative branch created that law,” DeVore said. “There’s nothing similar when it relates to a mask or temperature checks.”
DeVore has requested a temporary restraining order in the case. A hearing on that request is scheduled for Thursday.
DeVore also represents Hudsonville Community Unit School District #1 as a client. On Wednesday, DeVore sent a cease-and-desist letter to the state on the district’s behalf.
“My client is respectfully advising your agencies it is declining to implement the health and safety protocols as outlined in the guidance document,” the letter said.
DeVore said he sent similar letters on behalf of several private educational organizations.
Some school officials he’s talked to said they can’t operate under such policies.
“They all have unequivocally said ‘we cannot educate our children under these guidelines, it’s impracticable,’” DeVore said.
DeVore said he expects more lawsuits on the issue.