By: Mark Glennon*
“The Governor of Illinois owes it to the people of Illinois to allow his state’s courts to adjudicate the question of whether Illinois law authorizes orders he issued to respond to COVID-19,” said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois last week.
That might seem uncontroversial. It’s the key line in the recent announcement United States Justice Department that it thinks a lawsuit against Governor JB Pritzker’s emergency order should be heard in state, not federal courts.
But when asked about the DOJ’s action on Sunday, Pritzker gave this sweeping answer, disdainful of not just the DOJ’s move but of any judicial review of his claim to permanent emergency powers that reflect his “science and data”:
The judiciary aren’t experts at public health. Taking these things to court does not resolve the public health matter. Listing to the science and the data — that’s completely different than taking your political position to a court and trying to have it resolved by somebody who has been elected as a judge. So that’s my response.
In other words, never mind checks and balances, the Bill of Rights, statutory limits on emergency powers or anything courts might say. His “science and data” are what count.
And it is now mostly just his science and data.
Illinois now has the harshest emergency pandemic rules in the nation. Aren’t other states relying on science and data?
Even the exceptionally cautious Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees those other states have it right, saying last week that, “In general, I think most of the country is [opening up] in a prudent way.” Stay-at-home orders intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus could end up causing “irreparable damage” if imposed for too long, he added. “I don’t want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go.”
Yet Pritzker’s plan may not ever fully reopen Illinois since that would require a vaccine, highly effective or complete disappearance of the virus, which may never happen. His right to rule on his own through vast emergency powers likewise has indefinite duration, he has told the courts.
The DOJ’s action, which Pritzker dismissed without a substantive answer, is in fact very limited. While they did question the legality of Pritzker’s order, all they asked was to keep a pending case in state courts instead of having it removed to federal courts.
What is Pritzker thinking?
He is now out of touch — oblivious to the firestorm surrounding his order, disdainful of the rule of law and confident he can dismiss all critics as political grandstanders and much worse.
Aside from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, does he have any significant, open support?
Apparently not much even in the General Assembly, though his party holds a supermajority in both houses. Much of the legal infirmity of his order could have been fixed by the General Assembly in its recently ended session, but it provided no help, presumably fearing a backlash. Nor did they give him enforcement powers he asked for which he earlier asserted through rule making. “I was hopeful and expectant that they would deliver to me a bill,” he said. “The fact is that the legislature failed in this regard.”
The tragedy for Illinoisans, most of whom live paycheck to paycheck, deepens every day as millions may find those paychecks are gone forever.
Illinois is being destroyed.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.
Read more about COVID-19 and the impact on Illinois:
- COVID-19 spreads to half of all Chicagoland retirement homes. How did this happen?
- COVID-19 Appears to Have Peaked and be Declining in Illinois – For Now
- Illinois teachers’ union is quite pleased by radical opportunities they would have in an economic depression
- COVID-19 deaths and pre-existing conditions. What Illinois’ data says about who’s at risk
- Pritzker doubles down on linking critics and Republicans to Nazism, anti-Semetism or whatever
- Facing Growing Defiance, Pritzker Thumbs Nose at AG Opinion, Insults and Threatens Dissidents
- Pritzker’s overly-restrictive shutdown rules make Illinois a national outlier
- Half of Illinois’ deaths linked to retirement homes. Five key facts you should know.
- Indifference to Illegality of Illinois Stay-at-Home Order is Frightening
- Wirepoints analysis reveals 92 percent of Cook County COVID-19 victims had pre-existing conditions
- With New FDA Action, Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike Have No Excuse for Further Stonewalling Antibody Testing
- Pritzker’s top-down reopen strategy will fail large parts of IL: He should expect pushback
- Governor Pritzker’s Plan to Reopen Illinois Makes No Sense
- COVID-19: Seven facts that tell us Illinoisans can and must get back to work
- Illinois’ COVID-19 crisis: Daily data update