Justice Department Backs Challenge To Illinois Stay-At-Home Order

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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.

"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.

"However well-intentioned they may be, the executive orders appear to reach far beyond the scope of the 30-day emergency authority granted to the Governor under IL law", said Steven Weinhoeft, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of IL.

A similar lawsuit filed in state court against Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and his top public health officer led to a state Supreme Court ruling last week invalidating their stay-at-home orders altogether. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia filed suit against the order, and a judge in southern IL ruled Monday, April 27, 2020, that the IL governor's order to stem the spread of the coronavirus exceeds his emergency authority and violates individual civil rights.

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".

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said that the governor owes it to the people of IL to allow his state's courts to hear the case.

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Mr. Pritzker's lockdown order, like California's, bars indoor gatherings at places of worship, but has already survived federal court challenges brought on religious grounds.

The Illinois Attorney General's office filed a motion Thursday to move case to the federal court, a day before a Clay County circuit judge was to rule on a hearing. 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.

"While this case is important, it does not rise under federal law and thus falls outside this court's jurisdiction", Weinhoeft wrote.

In the statement of interest filed on Friday, the DOJ said the dispute belongs in IL state court and that Bailey has raised substantial questions as to whether the governor's current response to COVID-19 is lawful.

At the White House on Friday, he urged states to allow for the reopening of places of worship over the Memorial Holiday weekend and warned he would override governors who do not.

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