ROCKFORD, IL — A second state lawmaker has sued Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker over the statewide stay-at-home executive order he issued last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. John Cabello, a Machesney Park Republican, filed suit Wednesday in Winnebago County Circuit Court asking a judge to declare that Pritzker overstepped his authority in the March 20 order imposing restrictions on businesses and activities deemed nonessential by the state.
“The fundamental right for Cabello, and all persons similarly situated, of free movement to leave their homes and engage in activities as they so desire were arbitrarily stripped away from them by the March 20 Executive Order, which according to Pritzker could continue into perpetuity as he solely determines,” according to the complaint.
Cabello’s class-action suit seeks injunctions stopping the state from enforcing the order, or “any subsequent order issued with substantively the same restrictions, against Cabello, and all citizens similarly situated” and stopping Pritzker from issuing any other orders “restricting their freedom of movement to leave their homes and further restrict[ing] the activities they might engage within the entire State of Illinois.”
The suit called for a judge to declare that Pritzker’s emergency powers expired on April 8 and multiple extensions are invalid.
“Even if well intentioned by Pritzker, his actions as governor have left every citizen of this state completely devoid of any procedural due process rights to protect their liberty afforded them by the United States and Illinois Constitutions, and further guaranteed them by the legislature under IDPH’s own administrative rules,” it argues.
Pritzker’s office has described the challenges to the executive order as reckless.
“This callous disregard for science, reason, and the value of human life will be settled by the courts,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor’s press secretary. “The governor is focused on the statewide response to COVID-19, an effort that is not just legal, but is keeping people safe and saving lives.”
Cabello’s suit comes two days after a judge sided with another Republican lawmaker’s challenge to the Democratic governor’s executive order.
On Monday, Clay Count Circuit Judge Michael McHaney issued a temporary restraining order stopping the state from enforcing the stay-at-home order on another Republican state representative, 109th District Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia. That ruling did not apply to anyone else, and the office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a notice of appeal later that day.
At his daily press conference addressing the state’s response to COVID-19, Pritzker excoriated Bailey over the lawsuit and suggested Bailey was putting his downstate constituents at risk with the suit.
“For those unfamiliar, the 109th District happens to have among the lowest hospital bed availability and ventilators in the state, making it uniquely ill-equipped to respond to a surge in cases. The district is also home to the county experiencing Illinois’ highest death rate per capita from COVID-19,” Pritzker said.
“This ruling only applies to one person because it was only ever about one person,” he added. “This was a cheap political stunt designed so the representative can see his name in headlines and unfortunately he has briefly been successful in that most callous of feats. As absurd as this charade is, we are taking this matter very seriously.”
The governor addressed Cabello’s suit at his daily press briefing Wednesday.
“I think it’s a similarly irresponsible lawsuit,” he said. “We’re in the business here of keeping people safe and healthy. That’s what the stay-at-home order has been about, and I just think that lawsuit is just another attempt at grandstanding.”
Both Cabello and Bailey are represented by Greenville attorney Thomas DeVore.
Both lawsuits would be moot if the Illinois General Assembly were to meet and authorize the extension of the emergency order. Legislators have not met in Springfield since the COVID-19 disaster was declared and have not established a mechanism for conducting business remotely.
“I have suggested to the legislature that if they want guidance, and I think they will want guidance, about how to do it safely,” Pritzker said. “They may want to get guidance from our IDPH or from well-regarded epidemiologists in the state who would know how to design a plan for them to meet.”
Read full complaint in Cabello v. Pritzker, 2020-CH-210 in Winnebago County Circuit Court: