* From the governor’s media briefing yesterday afternoon…
Amy Jacobson from WIND asks if the Illinois attorney general has a written legal opinion that dates back to 2001 that essentially said that you are acting illegally. You did not have the power to issue the stay at home order beyond the initial 30 days according to this legal opinion.
* Tribune last night…
Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey has filed an amended lawsuit in a downstate court challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, contending that a 2001 Illinois attorney general document contradicts the state’s position on why the order could be extended beyond the initial 30 days.
The 2001 letter from then-Attorney General Jim Ryan to the state Emergency Management Agency director appears to respond to questions about foot-and-mouth disease and whether the governor could “exercise emergency powers in excess of 30 days after the declaration of a disaster.”
According to the letter, which is among the documents filed with Bailey’s lawsuit, Ryan wrote that he would “comment informally upon the questions you have raised.”
The act “clearly authorizes the governor to exercise emergency powers for up to 30 days,” Ryan wrote in the 2001 letter cited in the lawsuit. “A construction of its provisions to allow the governor to extend the 30-day period would render the limitation clause meaningless. A more reasonable construction, taking into consideration the other provisions of the act, is that the governor would be required to seek legislative approval for the exercise of extraordinary measures extending beyond 30 days.”
* I reached out to the attorney general’s office for some clarification. This was an informal opinion and, contrary to the Tribune report, was not written by Attorney General Ryan…
I will comment informally on the questions you have raised.
The AG’s offices told me the informal opinion was not about a human health risk, making it different than the current circumstances. And, despite the informal opinion from 2001, Attorney General Kwame Raoul has successfully argued the 30-day issue twice now. Once with a federal judge and also with a Cook County judge…
Mahwikizi’s suit also asked the court to issue a declaratory judgment that Pritzker’s emergency powers under the Illinois Emergency Management Act expired April 8, or 30 days after he issued his March 9 disaster proclamation.
Gamrath rejected that argument, holding the IEMA Act gives Pritzker authority to extend his power beyond an initial 30-day period without approval from the legislature.
The 30-day limit, Gamrath wrote, only applies more strictly to a “discrete event — one that stops and starts in a relatively short amount of time.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, she wrote, “is not a discrete or isolated disaster. It is a dynamic pandemic, still ongoing.”
“This continuing disaster poses a threat that is underway and has not abated as quickly as a more typical natural disaster like an earthquake or tornado,” Gamrath wrote. ”When an emergency epidemic of disease occurs and a pandemic ensues, the [g]overnor has authority under the [a]ct to utilize emergency powers beyond a single 30-day period to protect the community and residents of the [s]tate.”
So, give Bailey credit for finding that informal opinion, but we’ll see if the move works.