In Ruling, Illinois Judge Deemed Gov. Pritzker’s Coronavirus Lockdown Orders Exceeded His Authority

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A county judge has ruled that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker exceeded his authority when he extended the state’s public health emergency declaration and stringent measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus beyond the declaration’s first 30 days.

According to NBC Chicago, Clay County Judge Michael McHaney ruled on Thursday that the 30 days of emergency powers guaranteed to the governor under state law lapsed on April 8, declaring all executive orders related to COVID-19 issued thereafter to be void. McHaney’s ruling also said that the state constitution does not allow Pritzker “to restrict a citizen’s movement or activities and/or forcibly close business premises.”

NBC notes that the actual impact of McHaney’s ruling was not immediately clear as the governor’s office maintains other courts have upheld his orders.

The lawsuit was filed by Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), who was made to leave a legislative session back in May after refusing to wear a mask.

Bailey applauded the ruling while still urging Illinoisans to “live responsible.”

“It feels awesome because this is freedom,” Bailey said outside the Clay County courthouse after McHaney’s ruling. “Somebody does not know what they are doing and that they desire totalitarian rule… This is a victory for freedom. This is a victory for the people of Illinois.”

Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for Pritzker, shrugged off any significance of McHaney’s ruling.

“Every other court — both state and federal — that has considered these exact issues has agreed with the administration that executive orders protecting Illinoisans’ health and safety are well within the governor’s constitutional authority,” Bittner said.

Thursday saw another challenge to the constitutionality of Pritzker’s extended orders, this time with the state’s Republican Party suing him in federal court to allow the party to host large gatherings.

Judge Sara Ellis ruled in Pritzker’s favor, writing that the GOP groups “have not shown how this exemption is a plain invasion of their constitutional rights.”

“Plaintiffs ask that they be allowed to gather — without limitation — despite the advice of medical experts and the current rise in infections,” Ellis wrote. “The risks in doing so are too great.”

Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider expressed disappointment in the ruling at the time, adding that “our fight to secure our First Amendment right is not over.”

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