SPRINGFIELD (ILLINOIS CAPITOL BUREAU) -- The controversial lawsuit case between Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) and Gov. JB Pritzker has regained momentum. Both parties have waited weeks for a decision on where the case would continue. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gilbert Sison remanded the case back to Clay County on Monday.
The Illinois Attorney General's office wanted consideration in federal court on May 21. Bailey's Attorney, Tom DeVore, immediately filed a motion to remand the case to Clay County.
"It is a fundamental principle of federalism that federal courts may hear only certain claims, such as those raising 'federal questions' or 'arising under' the laws of the United States," Sison wrote. "A defendant may not remove a case to federal court unless, at the time of removal, a plaintiff’s complaint establishes that there is federal jurisdiction."
The judge goes further to examine Bailey's amended complaint addressing the governor's extensions of emergency powers. Bailey has constantly argued Pritzker had no power to continue the stay-at-home order beyond his initial 30 days. Sison writes that he realizes the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and a response needed to such a disaster. He notes there is no easy balance between protecting public health and saving the economy. However, the judge argued Bailey's amended complain doesn't fall under federal jurisdiction.
DeVore and Bailey believe Pritzker was "judge shopping" following their first win in the Clay County courtroom with Judge Michael McHaney. The Eastern Illinois judge opposed Pritzker's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed Bailey's constitutional rights were infringed by the executive orders. While the U.S. constitution addresses freedoms, Sison argues Bailey's claim is specific to the Illinois constitution.
"The Court finds that the most straightforward reading of Bailey’s claims is that they are brought pursuant to this Illinois statute and not as constitutional claims." Sison further notes Pritzker's powers are governed by state law.
While DeVore and Bailey argue the governor's decision to remove the case from Clay County was "frivolous and in bad faith," Sison disagrees. He wrote Pritzker was reasonable for seeking removal of the case. As a result, Pritzker won't have to cover Bailey's legal fees while the lawsuit was pending in the upper court.
A hearing is set for 1 p.m. Thursday in Clay County court.