A judge has ruled that Illinois Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey can be exempt from Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order in a decision that Bailey said should open the floodgates for others to sue for their freedom.
Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney on Monday issued a temporary restraining order that allows Bailey to disregard Pritzker’s order.
The judge ruled that Bailey “has shown he has a clearly ascertainable right in need of immediate protection, namely his liberty interest to be free from Pritzker’s order to quarantine in his own home.”
The ruling said the legislator has shown “he will suffer irreparable harm” without the temporary restraining order being issued and has “a reasonable likelihood of succeeding” on the merits of his argument.
Bailey had said Pritzker’s order was “in excess of the authority granted him” under Illinois law, according to Fox News.
The legislator had argued that although Pritzker had the right to impose restrictions for 30 days, he did not have the legal standing to extend stay-at-home laws past that date.
On Monday, Pritzker loosened the restrictions Bailey had attacked but also extended his overall stay-at-home order through May 30, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bailey encouraged his constituents to follow his lead in challenging the governor’s restrictions.
“This is just me, but anybody can follow suit,” he said, according to WMAG-TV.
“If people want to, if anyone wants to file any kind of similar suit in their home county or in their circuit, they can certainly do that,” Bailey said, according to the Tribune. “What I’m doing is challenging the constitutionality of the governor, of what he’s been doing.”
Bailey said the issue was not whether staying at home would be sound health policy but Pritzker’s use of his power.
“He is going to lose his power. This is the right thing,” the lawmaker said. “This is the law of the land, and I will contend that areas of the state would be better served through local control.”
Bailey said the economic damage from the state’s stay-at-home order might be worse than the disease it was issued to address.
“Our governor has created a second pandemic that I believe is going to be more far-reaching than the COVID-19 situation,” he said.
Bailey, whose district covers southern Illinois, said he gets calls from constituents who are “overwhelmed, scared to death, not of the COVID-19 virus, but of their livelihoods.”
“Still today, we’re getting calls of people that cannot get through to unemployment, and that’s what’s taking a toll in some of these more rural districts,” the legislator said. “That’s what the governor needs to be focused on.”
Pritzker attacked Bailey for his actions.
“People are in danger as a result of this ruling, of the judge’s ruling of the suit that was brought by Darren Bailey,” he said, according to the Tribune.
“We certainly are going to act in a swift fashion to try to have this ruling overturned, certainly put a stay in place,” the governor said. “I mean it’s, frankly, it’s insulting, it’s dangerous, and people’s safety and health has now been put at risk.
“There may be people who contract coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done now.”
“The message is clear, we are not Chicago and we already distance ourselves just by our rural life styles. Why should we be punished with the loss of jobs and closing our businesses when the coronavirus emergency isn’t the same for us?” he said. “This one-size-fits-all mentality needs to be reviewed and take into account our diversity from urban to rural areas of the state.
“The governor’s executive orders to social distance and stay home to work when you are able has had a flattening of the curve for the cities and that’s good.
“But in our area, the low numbers of cases reinforces the fact that we do not need the heavy hand of government to tell us to use our common sense. It was the actions of people who wouldn’t stay home in Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day celebrating that triggered these executive orders, not the actions of teachers or farmers or small business owners in southern Illinois.”
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