The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s school mask mandate.
In exercise of the Supreme Court’s supervisory authority, the court vacated Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow’s temporary restraining order of enforcing the school mask mandate. The Supreme Court also refused to hear Governor Pritzker’s appeal citing a 2007 court case, Felzak v. Hruby, and said “when an appeal is rendered moot through happenstance, the judgments of the courts below are vacated.”
A written dissent from Justices Michael Burke and David Overstreet is to follow.
There is no current rule on file by the Illinois Department of Public Health about requiring masks. The rule was allowed to expire after the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules blocked IDPH’s rule filing last week. According to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s appeal, IDPH likely will be filing the emergency rule again now that the TRO has been vacated.
Governor J.B. Pritzker issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling: “I’m gratified that the Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s restraining order, meaning that if a school mask mandate needs to go into effect in the future, we continue to have that authority. I’m also extremely pleased to say that because the CDC has recommended that masks are needed only in areas of high transmission, the State of Illinois will move forward to remove our school mask mandate, effective Monday. We will recommend that all school districts follow CDC guidance and will update our existing guidance in the coming days.”
Illinois Attorney Kwame Raoul added the following released statements: “We are pleased the court acted quickly to vacate the TRO, as the state requested. However, as the case is returned to the circuit court, we will continue to defend the governor’s executive orders to protect all Illinois residents and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Thomas DeVore, the southern Illinois attorney bringing the lawsuit against Pritzker and over 140 school districts around the state around the mask mandate, told the Center Square that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Judge Raylene Grischow’s TRO was “moot” but did not rule against her legal analysis: “Even though the temporary restraining order is not in effect, [Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow’s] legal analysis is still the law of the state because neither the appellate court or the supreme court overruled her legal analysis.”
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg characterized Pritzker’s response as purely political: “Gov. Pritzker’s spin on today’s ruling is dizzying. It took horrible polling numbers, members of his own party voting against him and judges ruling his orders moot before he finally allowed his school mask mandate to expire. This is a victory for Illinois parents who simply want the freedom to do what is best for their children. As governor, I will fight for strict limits on executive power to make sure this extreme overreach is never allowed again, under any administration.”
Illinois is slated to end its indoor mask mandate on Monday. IDPH announced just over 13,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the state this past week. As of Thursday night, just over 1,100 people were hospitalized due to the virus around the state.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.