McSweeney sends letter to attorney general to investigate Pritzker's 'unconstitutional' stay-at-home order

State Rep. David McSweeney is asking the U.S. Attorney General to review the governor's stay-at-home guidelines, which McSweeney called "overreaching and unconstitutional directives."

In a letter McSweeney sent Wednesday to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the Barrington Hills Republican expressed concerns about the lengths Gov. JB Pritzker might go to enforce his stay-at-home order. Specifically, McSweeney alleged the governor would withhold federal funds, revoke business licenses, restrain religious freedoms and charge business owners with a crime to enforce his emergency orders.

McSweeney said Pritzker considered all options to enforce the stay-at-home order, including withholding federal funding. He said in the letter that Pritzker’s actions deprive Illinois residents of emergency funding that was allocated to local governments in the fight against COVID-19.

"This should not be allowed," he said.

Pritzker announced Friday that businesses that try to open will face misdemeanor charges. The rule was withdrawn and instead is moving forward as legislation, in which businesses can be fined in a "phased manner," Pritzker announced Wednesday. The new legislation, McSweeney said, is "even tougher."

“This action would criminalize individuals trying to protect their livelihoods and provide for their families," McSweeney said. "While due to staunch opposition, Gov. Pritzker's administration agreed to repeal this rule today, they have made clear that they are working on a new order or legislation that is even tougher."

Another area of concern for McSweeney was Pritzker's cease and desist order to businesses that threatened to revoke their licenses if they disobeyed his executive order.

“Needless to say, this action could have a devastating impact on the lives of Illinois citizens. Gov. Pritzker's attempt to deprive Illinois citizens of their livelihood without due process should not be permitted to continue,” McSweeney said.

Under Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, churches, synagogues and mosques in Illinois cannot have services with more than 50 people until there is a vaccine, highly effective treatment or elimination of all cases for a sustained period.

McSweeney said it could be another year until religious institutions are allowed to have services again, which for him, is a violation of the constitution.

“This is a clear violation of First Amendment rights concerning free exercise of religion,” he said.

McSweeney is asking the Department of Justice to investigate.

"We ask that you remind Illinois Gov. Pritzker that the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis," he said.

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