State

Court: Pritzker won't have to appear in downstate court

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gestures while meeting with people at City Market on Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Rockford, Ill., after his visit to promote the 2020 Census. (Scott P. Yates/Rockford Register Star via AP)
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gestures while meeting with people at City Market on Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Rockford, Ill., after his visit to promote the 2020 Census. (Scott P. Yates/Rockford Register Star via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. JB Pritzker won't have to appear in a downstate courtroom this week after the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday pausing proceedings in a Clay County case challenging the Democrat's coronavirus-related executive orders.

The state's highest court didn't immediately decide whether to take up the case questioning if Pritzker acted within the scope of his authority in issuing numerous orders designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Pritzker’s orders have faced several legal challenges, which courts have mostly upheld. But in Clay County, Republican Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia sued over the restrictions, claiming Pritzker exceeded his authority under state statutes. Judge Michael McHaney ruled in his favor last month.

Pritzker had dismissed the ruling as “ridiculous,” noting others in his favor.

However, Bailey's attorney Tom DeVore accused Pritzker of breaching the ruling. Haney set a Friday hearing for Pritzker to explain.

On Monday, the Illinois attorney general’s office requested the state Supreme Court intervene on both the hearing and “the underlying legal question raised by the case.”

“From the outset, the circuit court has departed from ordinary procedures and shown an open hostility to the governor, his emergency actions, and the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic itself,” the motion said.

DeVore didn't immediately return a message.

Also Tuesday, a state panel approved Pritzker's emergency rules allowing public health officials to issue fines to businesses that don't comply with a statewide mask mandate.

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Follow Sophia Tareen at http://twitter.com/sophiatareen.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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