CLAY CO. (AP) – A judge ruled Monday Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the coronavirus exceeds his emergency authority and violates individual civil rights.
Clay County Circuit Judge Michael McHaney sided with Republican Rep. Darren Bailey, who sought a temporary restraining order against the Democratic governor’s far-reaching executive decree. Pritzker has relied on an April 2 statewide disaster declaration as authority to close schools, shut down nonessential businesses and limit movement by individuals from their homes because of the potentially deadly COVID-19.
Pritzker accused Bailey, a Xenia resident, of being “blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity.”
“It’s insulting. It’s dangerous and people’s safety and health have now been put at risk,” Pritzker said. “There may be people who contract coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done.”
Bailey said he’s trying to protect civil liberties and rejected Pritzker’s criticism, adding state law gives the governor emergency authority for 30 days, but Pritzker last week extended through May what is now a 37-day order.
“The state’s own pandemic response plan indicates the job now belongs to county health departments,” Bailey said.
Pritzker promised “swift” action to overturn the judge’s order, which applies only to Bailey, but allows other individuals and groups to challenge the movement restrictions while the highly contagious illness circulates.