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An Illinois court has ruled against Gov. J.B. Pritzker in a case brought by a Republican state lawmaker seeking a temporary restraining order against the state's stay-at-home order aimed at stopping the coronavirus — a ruling that applies only to the one lawmaker but could have wider consequences if others try to follow suit.
The lawmaker, state Rep. Darren Bailey, filed a motion late last week that sought to prevent the governor "from taking any action ... which orders Darren Bailey to stay at home, or at his place of residence, as well as limiting his ability to travel within the state..." The motion alleged that Pritzker's stay-at-home order is "in excess of the authority granted him" under Illinois law.
The governor blasted Bailey, who is from a more rural region of southern Illinois, for taking the legal action.
"It’s insulting. It’s dangerous and people’s safety and health have now been put at risk,” Pritzker said, according to the Associated Press. “There may be people who contract coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done."
Pritzker also called Bailey "blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity."
Bailey, on the other hand, said in a post on his website that Pritzker's stay-at-home order oversimplified the coronavirus problem and didn't take into account the fact it spreads more slowly in places where the population isn't as dense.
"The message is clear, we are not Chicago and we already distance ourselves just by our rural life styles. Why should we be punished with the loss of jobs and closing our businesses when the coronavirus emergency isn’t the same for us?" Bailey asked in a statement last week. "This one-size-fits-all mentality needs to be reviewed and take into account our diversity from urban to rural areas of the state."
On the same day as he was dealt a blow by his state's judiciary, Pritzker Monday extended his stay-at-home-order, with some modifications making it less strict than the state's current one – set to expire at the end of the month – until May 30.
In a tweet that didn't explicitly mention the lawsuit, Pritzker appeared to allude to Bailey's criticisms of stay-at-home orders applying in rural areas.
"COVID-19 knows no county or regional boundaries. When listing counties by infection rate, two of the five highest are downstate. In order, that’s Cook, Jasper, Lake, Will & Randolph. Looking at deaths per capita, the two highest counties are Jasper & Monroe—both in Southern IL," Pritzker said.
He continued: "No matter where you live, I want you to be healthy and safe. Following the advice of the scientists and experts is what has kept people in every region of our state alive."
It is unclear if any additional lawsuits have been filed seeking exemptions from the stay-at-home order, or if any will be.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.