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Illinois Judicial Responses to Covid-19 Updated 7/14/2020

Today’s update discusses:

  • U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Governor Pritzker in Illinois GOP's lawsuit
  • Confusion resulting from Clay County Judge’s Order in Representative Darren Bailey’s lawsuit against Governor Pritzker
  • Cook County Sheriff filing motion to compel Illinois Department of Corrections to take custody of inmates again
  • Couple in Clay County suing Illinois State Board of Education on behalf of their children


  • As noted in a prior update, the Illinois GOP sued Governor Pritzker, asking to be excused from his Executive Orders regarding a ban on large gatherings. However, a federal district court last week ruled in favor of the governor, denying the GOP’s request for an emergency temporary order. The Illinois GOP quickly appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which denied the emergency challenge. Attorneys for the GOP organizations filed an emergency application for an injunction with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, who ultimately denied the application with no comment. The three-judge panel for the 7th Circuit stated, “[i]f 100 Democrats or 100 Republicans gather and ten get infected, those ten may go home and infect a local shopkeeper, a local grocery-store worker, their postal carrier, or their grandmother—someone who had no interest in the earlier gathering. Thus, the balance of harms in this instance strongly favors the governor.”
  • Several prior updates have tracked the saga of the lawsuits between Illinois State Representative Darren Bailey and Governor Pritzker. The latest iteration of the battle has returned to state court from a federal court. Clay County Judge McHaney declared void “any executive orders in effect after April 8, 2020, relating to COVID-19.” Both parties, along with legal experts across the state, disagree on whether the scope of the order applies statewide or if it affects only Clay County. Before the attorney general may ask a higher court for clarification or to reconsider the decision, Judge McHaney must decide on an outstanding issue: whether the April 30 emergency declaration correctly defines COVID-19 as a disaster. Currently, a hearing is set for July 17 on that issue.
  • Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has sought a court order compelling the Illinois Department of Corrections to take custody of inmates who have been crowding the jail since the pandemic began. Many of the inmates have been convicted and sentenced, and some have served their sentences but are required to be transferred to the Department of Corrections before release. Currently, more than 350 inmates in the jail should be in the custody of the IDOC.
  • A couple in Clay County has filed suit against the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the directors of those entities regarding the guidelines released for returning to school. The complaint alleges that the requirements deprive their children of “their right to an education.” The attorney for the couple, Thomas DeVore, is the same attorney who has filed several lawsuits against Governor Pritzker regarding COVID-19-related executive orders.


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