U.S. Justice Department backs lawsuit challenging IL coronavirus restrictions

Henrietta Strickland
May 23, 2020

The Illinois Attorney General's office has filed a request that the lawsuit filed against Governor J.B. Pritzker by St. Rep. Darren Bailey be transferred to Federal Court.

His lawsuit alleges that Pritzker overstepped his authority as governor by imposing, then extending the executive order to temporarily shut down "nonessential" businesses and limit gatherings.

Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, gained national attention earlier this month when he sued Pritzker, then won a temporary restraining order that exempted only himself from the rules.

"The governor of IL owes it to the people of IL to allow his state's courts to adjudicate the question of whether IL law authorizes orders he issued to respond to COVID-19", said Eric Dreiband, assistant US attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said Pritzker "owes it to the people of IL to allow his state's courts to adjudicate the question of whether IL law authorizes orders he issued to respond to COVID-19".

Bailey said in his lawsuit that Pritzker's actions restricting social gatherings and business activity are not authorized under state law because they extend beyond the 30-day time period imposed by the IL legislature for the exercise of such emergency powers.

A similar letter on Friday to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer questioned whether their local restrictions "may be an arbitrary and heavy-handed approach" to stay-at-home requirements.

Because Bailey's complaint alleges a violation of constitutional rights, the IL attorney general's office argued that the federal court has jurisdiction.

A hearing was scheduled to take place in state court on Friday but Pritzker removed the case to federal district court in East St. Louis. According to the lawsuit, the governor's actions are not authorized by state law as they extend beyond the 30-day time period imposed by the IL legislature.

"The federal government has an interest in preventing the limited resources of the federal courts from being drawn into state-law disputes that lie outside of their jurisdiction", it said.

"The United States supports the plaintiff's motion (and recommends) the court promptly to return the matter to the Illinois Circuit court where it belongs because the plaintiff makes no federal claim", Weinhoeft's filing states.

President Donald Trump, a Republican who had staked his November 3 re-election bid to the once-robust US economy, has repeatedly agitated for a swift reopening of business activity brought to a virtual standstill by coronavirus lockdowns.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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