Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has officially filed an appeal aimed at overturning a ruling by a southern Illinois judge, who issued a temporary restraining order to a state lawmaker regarding Gov. J.B. Pritzker's modified stay-at-home order taking effect on May 1.
The appeal requests the decision by Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney be reversed and vacated to "dissolve the temporary restraining order," which exempts state Rep. Darren Bailey from abiding by restrictions.
"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," Raoul said in a statement. "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."
McHaney's ruling only applies to Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, Illinois, who filed a lawsuit claiming Pritzker exceeded his authority and violated the civil rights of the state’s residents when he extended his stay-at-home order through May 30. It's unclear what impact the legal challenge will have on other state residents.
"This is just me, but anybody can follow suit,” Bailey said.
And others did.
On Wednesday, a second Illinois lawmaker filed a lawsuit surrounding the order.
Rep. John Cabello, a Republican from the Rockford area, filed the suit in Winnebago County Circuit Court, records show, alleging he and "all citizens similarly situated are being irreparably harmed each and every day they continue to be restricted to their home and limited in their activities" under the order.
"This callous disregard for science, reason, and the value of human life will be settled by the courts," Pritzker's press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement Wednesday. "The governor is focused on the statewide response to COVID-19, an effort that is not just legal, but is keeping people safe and saving lives."
In the latest order, Pritzker relaxed the decree to allow for some outdoor activities and many previously barred surgeries and medical treatments. It allows some retailers to reopen to fill online or pickup orders. The governor is requiring face coverings in public for anyone older than 2, both indoors and outside if the recommended 6-foot social distance can’t be maintained.
“We are in possibly the most difficult parts of this journey,” Pritzker said. “I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. Believe me, if I could make that happen right now, I would, but this is the part when we have to dig in.”
Illinois' public health director reported the state's highest number of deaths in a single day on Tuesday and the state climbed above 50,000 cases Wednesday.
Bailey said the power and authority Pritzker wields in the current crisis "calls for an immediate review and reconsideration of legislative intent.”
He added the economic downtown that has resulted from Pritzker’s order is doing far more damage than the virus has done.
“Our governor has created a second pandemic that I believe is going to be more far-reaching than the COVID-19 situation,” he said.
Another hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.