CHICAGO (CBS) — They are divided by a simple state line, but when it comes to commerce, Illinois and parts of Wisconsin are looking very different.
Hours after the Wisconsin State Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order, people packed into bars.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, the Illinois Supreme Court could face the same type of decision.
There are several lawsuits challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order already in the courts. Nothing has reached the state Supreme Court level yet, and some lawmakers say no such lawsuit should.
But others say it might be inevitable.
In Walworth County, Wisconsin to the north and west of the Chicago area, crowds were out and about. Back in Chicago 91 miles away, businesses closed in the post-pandemic world have been ever more apparent.
“People want to save lives – yes, absolutely,” said state Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield). “But people also want to save their livelihoods.
That is why many downstate Republicans, and some suburban ones, are continuing to push back against Pritzker’s plan to reopen Illinois in phases and by region.
“There are already many cases working their way through the judicial branch,” said state Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisville). “Our role as the Legislature is to be the other check on the governor’s authority.”
Many call the Restore Illinois plan vague, unnecessary, and potentially cataclysmic to businesses in regions hit less severely by COVID-19.
“I think it’s fair to have that question brought before the Supreme Court,” said Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Westchester).
That is Durkin’s take on what might become of the Illinois cases currently in the court system – especially when it comes to whether the governor can extend his emergency powers beyond an initial 30 days.
“I can’t say whether or not it’s right or wrong, but I think it’s a question that needs to be vetted, and needs to be brought to the Supreme Court of Illinois,” Durkin said.
But many of the state’s legal leaders hope it doesn’t come to that.
“I think what happened in Wisconsin is really what we don’t want to see happen here in Illinois. We don’t need this issue to go to the Supreme Court,” said Tony Romanucci, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. “I can’t understand why an issue of social welfare; of health; of life and death has to be decided by our Supreme Court.”
Illinois state lawmakers head back to Springfield next week, where many hope to bring up concerns about the governor’s decision-making without the input of lawmakers.
Durkin is preparing what he calls commonsense legislation about how the state should reopen outside of Chicago. He wants to introduce it next week, despite a narrowly-defined agenda outlined by House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) in a Democratic-majority House.
“I plan to introduce legislation that’s going to, I think, address fairly the way that the governor has wrongfully segregated the state,” Durkin said.
Another GOP-sponsored bill would basically require General Assembly approval before Gov. Pritzker is able to extend his emergency powers.