SPRINGFIELD — The attorney general’s office has moved a state representative’s lawsuit challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s use of emergency powers to federal court because it says his case alleges violations of federal rights.
Hours before the state was due to respond to Rep. Darren Bailey’s request for Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney to rule on his case, the attorney general’s office changed the venue with a filing Thursday. A hearing on the request from Bailey, R-Xenia, was scheduled for Friday.
Thomas Verticchio, senior attorney general, wrote in the office’s notice that Bailey alleged his rights to religion, due process, interstate travel and “a Republican form of government” were infringed by Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders and disaster proclamations. Those rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and thus issues to be raised in federal court.
“The law gives a defendant the right to remove a case to federal court when a plaintiff files a complaint in state court alleging a violation of rights that are enshrined (in) the U.S. Constitution, and we have done so in several other cases challenging the governor’s executive orders,” an office spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Because Mr. Bailey’s amended complaint alleges violations of his federal constitutional rights, we removed his case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.”
Thomas DeVore, one of Bailey’s attorneys, said the state’s jurisdiction change amounts to a “delay tactic.” His colleague, Steven Wallace, wrote it was an effort to “dodge what [Pritzker] clearly anticipated would be an adverse decision in the circuit court.”
McHaney previously released Bailey from the governor’s stay-at-home order, and when the attorney general’s office requested the case be moved to Sangamon County last week, DeVore suggested it was “judge shopping.”
The real question in the lawsuit, Wallace said in his response, is whether Pritzker has the authority under Illinois statute to take the actions he has. That “has no bearing on federal interest.”
Verticchio’s motion has four facets.
First, the state wrote, because Bailey alleges the governor does not have continuing powers to restrict residents’ movement or shutter businesses, he is claiming Pritzker violated his right to liberty. And the representative’s claim that the procedures outlined in the Illinois Department of Public Health Act for quarantining citizens and closing stores were not followed amounts to an allegation that his right to due process was also violated.
Bailey’s argument that the social restrictions implemented to combat COVID-19 are “preventing” him from attending church is equivalent to an allegation Pritzker violated his First Amendment freedom of religion, Verticchio wrote. He added the representative’s claim he is confined by the stay-at-home order is Bailey’s assertion his constitutional right to travel was breached.
And fourth, “Bailey alleges that the governor’s actions have transformed the state government of Illinois to such a degree that Illinois no longer enjoys the ‘Republican Form of Government’ guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” according to the filing.
But in his response Wallace shrugged off the state’s logic as the office designing “a roadmap for a hypothetical civil rights complaint,” and called the venue shift “perhaps the most outrageous invocation of federal jurisdiction imaginable.”
A federal judge can decline the case, which would send it back to Clay County and McHaney’s courtroom. That is unlikely to happen before the hearing that remains scheduled for Friday in Clay County Court.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Meet the 'Mask Committee,' making masks for Southern Illinois police, health care workers
Photos: Meet the 'Mask Committee,' making masks for Southern Illinois police, health care workers
On March 20, I made a mask for my husband, who is a health care worker, because there was a shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE, at his workplace. Then, I made more masks for my elderly neighbors, elderly local people and local friends, as well as friends from New York and Florida. I was using leftover fabric I had in my workshop — holidays patterns like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Fourth of July.
I was running out of material and then Calico Country Sew store in Carbondale started donating fabric. I picked up some yards, and I was able to make masks for the police officers from Carterville. But, that was it: I ran out of material, and Amazon wasn’t shipping until May. As soon as I announced on my Facebook page that I had run out of material, people started donating fabric, metal wire, machine needles and threads. With that donation, I was able to keep making more masks to donate, and I completed a group of masks for Herrin police officers.
Then, Dr. Amanda Brazis Cook from Southern Illinois Healthcare approached me asking if I can reuse operating room drapes to make masks. She brought the material to my house, and at that point, I realized I needed extra hands to mass produce masks for area health care workers.
I asked the president of Carterville Rotary Club to help me find ladies who know how to sew, and Mary Slider and Louise Humble joined the effort. I also asked the president of my Woman’s Club in Herrin, and she was able to help me find three more ladies: Patty Cox, Carla Shasteen and Tienne Kollar, all of Herrin.
Another doctor joined the team: Dr. Danielle Tomevi brought material and also found a lady to help us, Dorene from Murphysboro.
And that is how the mask committee was formed. We named it "Mask Committee: Keep Calm and Sew."
After that, Joni, a nurse at Herrin Hospital, joined the committee, too, then Mary Russell, one of the managers from Dillards, Nancy, one of my neighbors, and Mirna from Murphysboro.
We have been sewing our hearts out since March. April was the busiest month for us. We have made hundreds of masks to donate.
Then, we had a request of a new pattern and we had to divide the committee in two to work the requested pattern. Dr. Sara Altamimi provided us with more OR drapes to use, and we have been working making two different masks for area health care workers.
Ninety-five percent of the masks have been donated to SIH, and 5% to community members and police officers. We have received several selfies of health care workers wearing the masks in different departments. It really made us happy that we can give back and help the community in time of need.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.