A judge in Clay County has reportedly ordered Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to appear in court next Friday and explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt.
According to Capitol Fax and Blue Room Stream, a judge will require Pritzker to appear in court and explain why he "should not be held in indirect civil contempt." The order states a failure to appear could result in an arrest warrant.
According to court records, Pritzker is facing what is known as an “Indirect Civil Contempt Motion” in connection with a lawsuit filed by State Rep. Darren Bailey in Clay County.
"See you in court next Friday," Bailey, who also posted a copy of the order on social media, wrote on Facebook.
The judge's order comes on the same day Pritzker announced the Illinois Department of Public Health would file emergency rules to help local agencies enforce the state's mask mandate and social gathering restrictions.
"On the same day that the governor asked the General Assembly to do more to keep Illinoisans safe, the House GOP is instead rejecting science and perpetuating a sideshow to this global pandemic," a spokesperson for Pritzker said in a statement Friday. "This motion for contempt is legally baseless, frivolous and a distraction from the serious crisis facing our state. Not a single member of the GOP caucus in the General Assembly has yet to publicly express their rejection of or outrage at this legal maneuvering that creates confusion around public health guidance."
Press Secretary Jordan Abudayyeh said the issuance of the order without allowing the governor an opportunity to respond to the motion "is procedurally improper" and violated "elementary principles of fairness."
"The state is grappling with its most serious challenge to the lives and health of its residents - a global pandemic - with an increasing number of counties at a warning level today due to outbreaks of cases, and all the while the GOP is playing politics," the statement read. "The governor will continue to focus on protecting public health and not on the political sideshow in Clay County."
The motion filed by Bailey accuses the governor of ignoring prior orders by the court, and says he should be held in contempt for continuing to issue executive orders in connection to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The motion seeks to have Pritzker held in contempt of court, and to be imprisoned in the Clay County Jail “until he purges himself by rescinding the above-mentioned executive orders.”
Pritzker all but scoffed at a question about the motion Thursday, saying that Bailey’s court victories in Clay County have been repudiated in numerous other Illinois courts.
“All I can say is the rulings in Clay County have been ridiculous,” Pritzker said. “There’s no other court that has ruled as they have on the matter that they ruled on. In fact there’s a judge on Friday who specifically pointed to Clay County and said that the decision by that judge was bereft of any legal analysis, and I think that’s accurate.”
According to Capitol Fax, Pritzker was quoting in part, a ruling by a circuit court judge in another lawsuit alleging he’d overstepped in issuing executive orders.
In a lawsuit filed in Will County, a group of plaintiffs accused Pritzker of overstepping his authority as governor in extending a moratorium on evictions, and Circuit Court Judge John Anderson ruled against them, saying that the governor’s authority to issue executive orders has been upheld by numerous federal judges and by virtually every other state judge in Illinois, with the exception of Clay County.