Illinois GOP Lawmaker Wins Temporary Exemption From Stay At Home Order — For Himself

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)

A Republican Illinois lawmaker won a temporary exemption from Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s (D) stay-at-home order Tuesday — but only for himself. 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a speedy appeal asking an appellate court to reverse and vacate the decision Tuesday, after Pritzker promised a legal battle during his Monday press conference.

“In collaboration with the Attorney General’s office, my team and I will fight this legal battle to the furthest extent possible to ensure that public health and common sense prevail,” the governor said.

Echoing conservative complaints nationwide, Rep. Darren Bailey (R), a freshman representing a rural district in southern Illinois, sued the governor in state circuit court for alleged misuse of his emergency powers. 

In his complaint, Bailey’s lawyers said that Pritzker declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 9. At that point, the governor was imbued with certain powers under the state’s Emergency Management Agency Act, including his authority to issue a stay-at-home order. The Act grants him such powers for not more than 30 days. 

On March 20, Pritzker announced the statewide stay-at-home order. Since then, he has declared Illinois in a state of continued disaster, and extended the order — a move that Bailey argued was illegal and outside the bounds of the governor’s emergency powers. 

“Pritzker is issuing redundant proclamations acknowledging the same COVID-19 virus as a ‘continuing disaster,’ wherein he is reenergizing the emergency provisions of the act for the sole purpose of rendering the statutory 30-day limitation placed on his emergency powers meaningless,” the lawsuit said.

Bailey sought a temporary restraining order and injunction to relieve him from having to stay home and limit his own travel within the state. 

He was granted both by Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney on Monday. 

“Plaintiff has shown he has a clearly ascertainable right in need of immediate protection, namely his liberty interest to be free from Pritzker’s executive order of quarantine in his own home,” wrote the judge in his order. 

Pritzker had strong words for the decision on Monday when he promised the coming appeal.

“History will remember those who put politics aside to come together to keep people safe,” he said. “It will also remember those so blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity that they made an enemy of science and of reason.”

The legal action mirrors sentiment shared nationwide by conservatives chafing under restrictions governors put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus. In a similar legal action, Wisconsin legislators sued the state’s top health officials in state Supreme Court last week for extending the stay-at-home order. Elsewhere, individuals have sued their governors or organized demonstrations to express their anger. President Donald Trump has already promised that he was “going to come down strong” on states enforcing “too tough” of restrictions.

And on Monday, Attorney General William Barr issued a memo telling federal prosecutors to be on the lookout for any state restrictions that might infringe on constitutional rights.

Read the judge’s order here:

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