By: Mark Glennon*
Despite growing defiance across Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker late Friday quietly filed an emergency rule stepping up criminal enforcement of his controversial emergency shutdown order. The full text of the new rule is published in WTTW’s story on it.
The new rule effectively directs county state’s attorneys and other officials to enforce the emergency rule, making violations punishable by fines up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment up to a year as Class A misdemeanors. Violations would include operators of restaurants, salons, workout facilities and bars that open in contravention of his order.
Pritzker initially and repeatedly said that he would leave enforcement to local discretion, but last week moved in a much harsher direction, threatening a variety of consequences for violations of his emergency order.
Whether this new step by Pritzker can be accomplished in this manner – unilaterally and without statutory authorization – is unclear. If it is permissible, it would be subject to review by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in the General Assembly. Eight of its twelve members can vote to reject the rule. However, they rarely reject anything.
Illinois is a national outlier, keeping its particularly harsh shutdown order in place even while almost all other states have begun opening up more aggressively.
Consequently, Pritzker is facing a quickly growing list of municipalities, officeholders and citizens objecting to his order, suing or defying it outright. Pritzker, his press secretary and some of his friends in the press have often tried to characterized dissenters as Nazis, anti-Semites or nutjobs, but the scope of the opposition indicates otherwise. Among the headlines we have seen in the last several days:
- Illinois Sheriffs’ Association: ‘It is outrageous’ that Pritzker is “threatening retaliation’ – Herald-News Protesters flock to Illinois Statehouse, Thompson Center to voice displeasure with stay-at-home order – WGN
- Democratic State Senator Crowe not content with phase-in plan, has ‘a big list’ of questions for Pritzker – Telegraph
- Churches reopen for Sunday service in defiance of Illinois’ stay-at-home order – ABC Chicago
- Naperville Park District to take legal action to reopen programs, facilities – Daily Herald
- Some Northwest suburbs ask to be split from Chicago in governor’s Restore Illinois plan – Daily Herald
- Suburbs divided over governor’s stay-at-home order – WGNTV
- McHenry County Sheriff Says Deputies Won’t Enforce Pritzker’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order – NBC Chicago
- Burr Ridge mayor says ‘there is no clear or objective path to reaching Phase 4’ of Pritzker reopening plan
- Corrupt ex-Ald. Ambrosio Medrano released from prison over coronavirus concerns – Chicago Sun-Times
- Despite threat of fines, it’s ‘business as usual’ at some Chicago retailers – WGNTV (Chicago)
- Federal Lawsuit filed against Governor Jay Robert Pritzker in his official capacity and the State of Illinois – Will County News
- Willie Wilson voices support for 100 churches to reopen Sunday in defiance of stay-at-home order – ABC7 (Chicago)
- County officials say Pritzker’s reopening plan needs to move faster – State Journal Register
- Godfrey Mayor Issues Statement Regarding Madison County Resolution
- Opposition to Pritzker’s order is growing, as small business owners sue to challenge the governor’s ability to order them into ruin. – IL Policy
- Illinois Quad-Cities join Iowa Quad-City reopening customers – Quad-City Times
- Illinois Counties Push Back Against Pritzker’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order – NBC5 (Chicago)
- Central Illinois county will get to vote on whether Chicago should separate from the state – WGN
Consider the precedent Pritzker is setting if his power grab is not checked – both the political and legal precedent. This should not be a partisan issue. Pick a topic on which feelings are intense and think about the precedent for abuse, whatever side you are on. What might an anti-immigration governor, for example, do in the face of an epidemic known to be coming from immigrants? Or a governor who concludes that global warming is a major death threat justifying emergency powers?
Governor Pritzker’s view of emergency executive powers must not be permitted to stand and become precedent.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.
Read more about COVID-19 and the impact on Illinois:
- 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