(The Center Square) – State Rep. John Cabello filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block enforcement of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s emergency stay-at-home order, but Cabello said he wanted to give the governor time to work with state legislators before demanding an immediate stay from a judge.
Illinois has been under a stay-at-home order since March 21. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said the order, which largely restricts people to their homes and shuttered all nonessential businesses, was implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The original order was set to last through April 7, but the governor extended it through the end of April. Pritzker is expected to sign a modified order that runs through May 30. That order loosens some restrictions and adds new requirements, such as mandating people use face coverings in places where social distancing is not possible.
Critics, including one other Republican lawmaker who filed a lawsuit, have said the extensions go beyond the governor’s authority to declare such statewide emergencies beyond the initial 30 days set out in the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. Pritzker has said he has the authority to issue orders to protect public health.
Cabello, R-Machesney Park, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Winnebago County Circuit Court. The suit is similar to one filed by state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, but Cabello’s seeks to block the stay-at-home order from being enforced on Cabello and “all citizens similarly situated.”
Bailey’s lawsuit was successful in Clay County Circuit Court, where a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the governor in favor of Bailey. The Clay County ruling only applies to Bailey as an individual. The state has appealed the ruling in that case.
Cabello said his suit in Winnebago County had some important differences.
“First, we filed the lawsuit for everyone in the state, but second, I did not file for an immediate stay,” Cabello said. “That means at this point I am willing to slow-walk this just a little bit to try to let the governor do the right thing.”
Pritzker called the court challenges “reckless.” Cabello said he hopes the governor sees the opportunity to work with lawmakers.
“I would like him to use some common sense and to start talking with the legislature to determine what the best way to move forward is,” Cabello said. “I would like to see many of these restrictions lifted for our small business so people can get back to their American way of life.”
Pritzker has also said the court challenges were partisan acts. Cabello said he has worked with the governor on issues in the past and is willing to work with him on this issue.
“This is a way of me signaling to the governor that yet again I’m willing to work with him if he wants,” Cabello said. “If he doesn’t, then I will file for the immediate stay.”
A status hearing in Cabello’s case is set for May 4.
“I’m trying to give him some leeway to deescalate and again make some common sense decision and let’s try to move our state forward together,” Cabello said.
The governor’s existing stay-at-home order expires on Thursday. He has yet to file the order extending the mandate through the end of May.