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Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber sues governor over stay-at-home orders

The Center Square

The Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce has filed suit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker over his extended stay-at-home orders.

In a Madison County Circuit Court filing on Tuesday, attorney Thomas DeVore argued for a definitive determination by the courts that the governor’s actions exceeded statutory authority and for the courts to clarify the rights and interests of all involved.

“After more than two months of many businesses being shut down, a soaring unemployment rate, and economic devastation, the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce decided to take this action on behalf of our small businesses,” said Desiree Bennyhoff, president and CEO of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. “It is critical that our job creators have the opportunity to get back to work, re-employ staff, and responsibly welcome customers back through their doors without the fear of state licensure revocation.”

A motion DeVore filed asks for a temporary restraining order against the governor.

“Pritzker has issued serial proclamations back to back for the purpose of re-energizing the 30-day emergency power to … forcibly close businesses which he deemed non-essential within the entire State of Illinois,” DeVore claims in the lawsuit. “The Chamber has a right to insist Pritzker not engage in a fiction decided to circumvent express limitations on his authority imposed by the legislature.”

“It should not escape this court that the Madison County Board of Health, in wielding its supreme authority over business closures for public health risks, almost unanimously passed a comprehensive plan to reopen businesses under its jurisdiction,” the filing said.

The nonprofit business group represents 500 members, mostly private businesses, according to the lawsuit.

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Although he had not read the lawsuit yet, state Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said he was aware something was being filed.

“The governor has taken advantage of this crisis to exercise a level of power and authority this state has never witnessed before, so the push back from so many people … is a sign that they are uncomfortable with J.B. Pritzker’s autocratic ways and his lack of transparency,” Plummer said.

“Everybody knows that the pandemic is a crisis, but that being said we are at the point now where the governor is using the bully pulpit to go after our small businesses and our local law enforcement,” Plummer said. “He’s using legally dubious positions to shut down the economy and destroy the livelihood of many people.”
“The chambers of commerce in all our communities represent hundreds and hundreds of businesses that are the lifeblood of our towns and neighborhoods and employ our people,” Plummer said.

There have been a number of other court cases challenging the governor’s orders filed by individual state legislators and businesses from across the state. DeVore has represented several of them.

Pritzker has said he has the authority to keep people safe during a pandemic.

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