(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker faces new challenges as he prepares to extend the state’s stay-at-home through May 30 to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Pritzker lost one challenge to his stay-at-home order in Clay County and another Republican lawmaker plans to file suit by the end of the day Tuesday in another county. The challenges come as sheriffs raise questions about enforcing the governor’s orders.
Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney ruled in favor of state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, in his case on Monday. State Rep. John Cabello said he plans to file a nearly identical suit in northern Illinois.
Cabello, R-Machesney Park, said the suit he plans to file in Winnebago County calls the governor’s unilateral orders into question.
“I hope it sends a wake-up call to the governor, the guy that is acting like a dictator,” Cabello said.
The governor has said his orders were designed to protect public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To critics of such lawsuits, Cabello said it’s a free country, not a dictatorship. He criticized the governor’s decision to close state parks during the pandemic.
“There are ways of safeguarding yourself, but when you demand that the citizens’ assets are closed and since they still have to pay for them and not use them I have an issue with that,” Cabello said.
Cabello’s attorney said his lawsuit against the governor will be filed by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Pritzker has said he wants local governments to enforce his orders. But several sheriffs have said they won’t, including the elected sheriffs of Douglas County and Tazewell County.
Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said enforcing the governor’s order came with too much liability, opening law enforcement agencies up to lawsuits.
“We have enough liability issues to worry about on a daily basis that this would just exacerbate the problem and I just don’t see it being legitimate,” Downey said.
Pritzker has said people will get sick if sheriffs don’t enforce his orders. Downey said while law enforcement officers are there to help keep the community safe, each individual is responsible for their own health.
“What they do in their social life obviously dictates where they’re going healthwise,” Downey said. “For him to blame sheriffs, which doesn’t surprise me, is irresponsible.”