Rep. Darren Bailey's case against Pritzker heads back to circuit court
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Rep. Darren Bailey's case against Pritzker heads back to circuit court

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State Rep. Darren Bailey talks to protesters calling for the government to reopen Illinois as they rally outside the Bank of Springfield Center on May 20, 2020. 

BELLEVILE — State Rep. Darren Bailey's lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been sent back to a Clay County circuit court, according to a federal court order.

Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, gained national attention in May when he sued Pritzker, then won a temporary restraining order that exempted only himself from the stay-at-home rules imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

His lawsuit alleges that Pritzker overstepped his authority as governor by imposing, then extending the executive order to temporarily shut down "nonessential" businesses and limit gatherings.

Because Bailey's complaint alleges a violation of constitutional rights, the Illinois attorney general's office argued that the federal court has jurisdiction. But Steven Weinhoeft, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, argued in a 21-page statement of interest that Bailey's suit belonged in the circuit court.

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U.S. Magistrate Gilbert C. Sison agreed.

"In this instance, in the interest of federalism, the Court finds that the amended complaint does not give rise to federal jurisdiction and that this action is best committed to the courts of the State of Illinois for further consideration," the judge wrote in his order.

Sison's order said while the Court "recognizes the enormity of the issues" the Bailey suit raises, but that the court's sole focus was the question of federal jurisdiction.

"The stakes are high on both sides of this litigation," Sison wrote. "There is no easy balance between protecting the public from a silent, fast-spreading, novel virus and preventing great social upheaval and the heavy strain of economic and financial uncertainty."

Sison noted that the court's operations have been disrupted due to the pandemic.

Bailey represents Illinois' 109th legislative district, which follows the Indiana border from roughly Effingham to Salem.

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