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Bailey vs. Pritzker: “This was a cheap political stunt”

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Rep. Darren Bailey

Springfield, IL - Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has filed an appeal on behalf of Gov. JB Pritzker to overturn a temporary restraining order on the extended stay-at-home order for a Southern Illinois lawmaker. Pritzker's appeal requests the Clay County court "reverse and vacate" Monday's order and "dissolve the temporary restraining order, and grant any other appropriate relief." Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) sued Gov. Pritzker because he feels Illinois has stripped away his freedom. Bailey says he didn't expect the case to get so much attention. However, Pritzker thinks this was all a publicity stunt.

"This was a cheap political stunt designed so that the Representative can see his name in headlines," Pritzker said during his briefing Tuesday afternoon. "Unfortunately, he has briefly been successful in that most callous of feats."

During a virtual interview with the Capitol Bureau, Bailey said he thinks Pritzker has created a "financial pandemic" for Illinois. Since lawmakers haven't returned to Springfield during the stay-at-home order, Bailey said it was time to use the Constitution. He says the Judicial branch was able to come in and "hold someone accountable when they get off the rails."

"What's good for one person should be good for everybody, right? So if I'm exempt from it, everybody else is going to be saying why aren't I exempt from it," Bailey said. "That's actually what we believe will transpire in the event, potentially the Supreme Court rules on a Constitutional basis and upholds this suit." The Eastern Bloc lawmaker says Americans have common sense and know what's right and best. Bailey adds this is "a constitutional free liberty democratic situation." However, Gov. Pritzker is reminding people the stay-at-home order is still in effect. Pritzker says COVID-19 shouldn't be a partisan issue.

Illinois Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan

"Let's get back to the business of governing and let's let the Department of Public Health take care of the pandemic because we have a plan designed to make that happen," said Bailey.

The Republican is referring to the Illinois Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan. Page 67 of the document says quarantine is not effective in controlling multiple influenza outbreaks in large populations.

Credit: Illinois Department of Public Health

However, page 71 of the document gives the Illinois Department of Public Health supreme authority in any matter of quarantine. That means the Department can issue orders for isolation, quarantine and closure of facilities.

Credit: Illinois Department of Public Health

Pritzker says the COVID-19 pandemic is different. "We’re not...there is no quarantine authority that’s being exercised here," Pritzker said. "There’s a stay-at-home order, they're executive orders there in place to effectuate the protection of all of our citizens."

Setting a precedent

The Capitol Bureau asked Bailey if he knew his legal battle could set a precedent for anyone against Pritzker's executive order. "There's a concern, it's the unknown. It's the fear that you do something like this and wake up tomorrow with thousands of people dead. That's what we've been told is going to happen. We just simply haven't seen it yet," Bailey explained. Pritzker says Judge Michael McHaney's ruling is dangerous.

"We will not stop this virus if, because of this ruling, any resident can petition to be exempted from aspects of the orders that rely on collective action to keep us all safe," Pritzker exclaimed. Bailey's case now moves to the 5th District Appellate Court in Mt. Vernon.

"I want to be remembered for upholding the Constitution of this United States and the freedom of its people because our governor has hijacked that and he's holding it hostage," Bailey said.

However, Pritzker says the danger of COVID-19 hasn't passed out of Illinois yet. "We are making much of progress and much of the progress that we had hoped to make. We will not let one irresponsible state Representative deter us from success."

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Mike Miletich

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