SANGAMON COUNTY (AP) – A Sangamon County judge on Monday ruled Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has power under state law and the state constitution to issue executive orders that mandate public health measures at schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision, issued by Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow relates to two lawsuits. In one of the lawsuits, the judge ruled that the governor’s executive orders regarding schools were issued lawfully and the state agencies lawfully issued the guidance contained in those orders.
She also cited a 2nd District Appellate Court decision issued earlier this month that ruled Pritzker has the power under state law to issue successive disaster proclamations. the 2nd District Appellate Court’s decision, in FoxFire Tavern v. Jay Robert Pritzker et al., was initially issued as a ruling that could not be cited as precedent.
The Attorney General’s Office, however, asked the court to publish the opinion in order for it to be used as precedent in similar cases.
Both lawsuits argued against the authority of Pritzker and his agencies to broadly impose a limit on gatherings, a mask mandate and temperature screening requirements at schools. Rather, those restrictions should be enacted by the Legislature, according to the parents’ attorney Thomas DeVore.
DeVore also represents several businesses across the state in lawsuits challenging Pritzker’s disaster declaration, among other issues, that are consolidated before Grischow, including a case that involves Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia.
DeVore said he plans to appeal Grischow’s latest ruling, again to the 4th District Appellate Court. He also downplayed the significance of her decision, saying it only applies to the schools named in the lawsuits.