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Local News

Will County Republicans part of lawsuit against Pritzker over 10-person group limit

'We don't want him ruling by fiat'

The Will County Republican Party was among the GOP groups who filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker over his ban on gatherings of more than 10 people to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Illinois Republican Party, Schaumburg Township Republican Organization and the Northwest Side GOP Club were also part of the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The Republicans argued Pritzker's executive order banning gatherings of more than 10 people is too selective and arbitrary. Specifically they point to the governor exempting religious gatherings from the ban, but not political activity.

George Pearson, the chair of the Will County Republicans, argued the governor should not have carve-outs for certain groups of people to practice their First Amendment rights. He said Pritzker should allow all activity protected by the U.S. Constitution.

"We're saying we don't want him ruling by fiat," Pearson said.

The Republicans also accused Pritzker of not enforcing his executive order when it came to the mass protests against racism and police brutality.

They pointed to Pritzker's participation in the South Suburban March for Justice and Love in Matteson last week. The governor justified such gatherings as being protected by the First Amendment, according to a news release.

“Last week the governor’s double standard was on full display as he defended, joined and endorsed large gatherings that violate his very own executive orders,” said Tim Schneider, chair of the Illinois Republican Party, in the release. “It’s clear the governor keeps one set of rules for the people in politically advantageous photo ops and another for the rest of Illinois.”

Last month, Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, area business owners and Pearson also sued the governor, demanding payment for the damages they experienced because of his stay-at-home order.

"We're saying enough," Pearson said. "We're saying rule or govern the right way. Govern by the constitution."

In a statement, Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor's press secretary, said the state has never prevented Illinoisans from exercising their First Amendment rights and pointed to the many Republican protests against Pritzker in recent months.

"This is about scoring political points and criticizing civil rights protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement," she said. "The courts have repeatedly upheld the governor’s executive orders as based on public health guidance."

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