Gov. Pritzker to appear in Clay County court over state's emergency order or face contempt, judge says

The governor is facing an arrest warrant unless he shows up in court

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Pritzker ordered to appear in court over emergency action: Judge
Gov. Pritzker is accused of violating a ruling, saying he does not have the authority to extend Illinois' emergency order due to the coronavirus beyond 30 days.

CLAY COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker has been ordered to appear in court over a legal challenge involving his statewide action during the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor is accused of violating a ruling that states he does not have the authority to extend an emergency order beyond 30 days.

RELATED: COVID-19 Illinois: Governor JB Pritzker issues new IL coronavirus guidelines as daily cases surpass 2K

Weeks ago, a judge in downstate Clay County sided with Republican State Representative Darren Bailey regarding the legal challenge.

Pritzker is facing a warrant for his arrest unless he shows up in court next week to explain why he should not be found in contempt.

The governor's office released a statement in response to the notice, calling it a "political sideshow."

"On the same day that the Governor asked the General Assembly to do more to keep Illinoisans safe, the House GOP is instead rejecting science and perpetuating a sideshow to this global pandemic. This motion for contempt is legally baseless, frivolous and a distraction from the serious crisis facing our state. Not a single member of the GOP caucus in the General Assembly has yet to publicly express their rejection of or outrage at this legal maneuvering that creates unnecessary confusion around public health guidance.

The issuance of the Order to Show Cause, without even allowing the Governor an opportunity to respond to the flawed motion for contempt, filed only days ago, is procedurally improper, violating elementary principles of fairness. The State is grappling with its most serious challenge to the lives and health of its residents - a global pandemic - with an increasing number of counties at a warning level today due to outbreaks of cases, and all the while the GOP is playing politics. The Governor will continue to focus on protecting public health and not on the political sideshow in Clay County."

The governor's office is also slamming the timing of that order as the state announces 13 counties are now considered to be at a "warning level" for COVID-19.

The counties fall into the category due to the rising number of positive coronavirus cases and outbreaks linked to businesses, long-term care facilities, large gatherings, and out-of-state travel.

The majority of the counties on that list are downstate, with the closest to the Chicago-area being Winnebago and Grundy counties.