Illinois Takes Up Fight Against GOP Lawmaker Turned Stay-At-Home Resister

Rep. Darren Bailey talks on the House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Feb. 20, 2019. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Rep. Darren Bailey talks on the House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Feb. 20, 2019. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The state of Illinois is moving quickly to appeal the “mistaken circuit court decision” that granted a state Republican lawmaker reprieve from the governor’s stay-at-home order. The state is also asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in. 

“I am asking the appellate court to address this mistaken circuit court decision now,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement. “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.”

The state lawmaker, Rep. Darren Bailey (R), won a temporary injunction and restraining order from the Clay County circuit court earlier this week, freeing himself from having to stay home and limit his intra-state travel.

His argument centered on Governor J.D. Pritzker’s (D) power under the state’s Emergency Management Agency Act. Bailey’s complaint said that by issuing multiple consecutive emergency declarations stemming from the same, ongoing pandemic, Pritzker is skirting the 30-day limitation on such announcements. Thus, Bailey’s lawyers argued, Pritzker is rendering the law’s restrictions on the governor’s emergency powers “meaningless.” 

In his opening brief filed in the appeal, Raoul called Bailey’s reading of the law “faulty,” pointing out that it doesn’t enumerate how many declarations a governor may issue based on one, ongoing emergency. He also cited multiple former governors who have issued successive disaster proclamations to deal with the H1N1 outbreak and massive floods. 

“The Governor has not purported to exercise emergency powers indefinitely; he has issued disaster proclamations for 30-day periods,” the brief said. “But if the factual circumstances change—as every Illinoisan hopes they will—the Governor may no longer be able to reasonably conclude that a disaster still exists. At that point, the Governor’s emergency powers would expire 30 days after issuance of the most recent disaster proclamation.”

Raoul also emphasized that as a government employee, Bailey is already exempt from executive orders, but that his court action has encouraged copycats across the state.

“Orders like the circuit court’s inject uncertainty into the need to comply with the Governor’s directives,” Raoul wrote. “Such a disruption could undo much of the progress already made.”

He requests that the court reverse and vacate the temporary restraining order. 

As of Friday afternoon, Illinois had 52,918 positive cases of coronavirus, per the state health department. At least 2,355 people have died.

Read Raoul’s memo here:

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