Prof. Sheila Simon is interviewed by the Southern Illinoisan about the debate over Governor Pritzker's stay-at-home executive order

April 28, 2020 , by Isaac Smith | Southern Illinoisan


ENERGY — A letter that was intended just for Energy citizens and business owners has the village’s police chief answering a lot of questions.

In a letter dated April 24, Energy Police Chief Shawn Ladd laid out the following regarding Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 executive orders and his department:

“With a long-held belief in the rule of law and order and an obligation to preserve the peace and protect the lives and property of the people, we are also honor bound to protect the people we serve from tyranny and government overreach in pursuit of these goals.

“The Village of Energy, Illinois, and by proxy, the Village’s Departments and Agents hold no interest in any enforcement activities concerning any rules, regulations, declarations or proclamations that are morally or technically in violation of the provisions of the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Illinois.”

In March, Pritzker ordered nonessential businesses closed and implemented a stay-at-home order for residents, mandating that travel be limited to essential travel only — things like the doctor’s office and groceries. They also limited gatherings of more than 10, forcing many churches and religious groups to find other ways of congregating.

Pritzker has been praised by many for the direct action taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which, in recent months, has left hundreds of thousands dead worldwide. And, others think a few of the orders are broad government overreach. Ladd falls into that camp.

Ladd spoke Monday with The Southern about the letter, which he said has garnered far more attention than he thought it would. Ladd said he’s had local business owners asking him a lot of questions about how they should proceed given Pritzker’s executive.

“(Given) the contradictory information that people are being flooded with, I wanted my citizens and my business owners to know … Energy isn’t essentially picking sides one way or the other,” Ladd said, adding that he hoped it would provide guidance on the issue on how business owners should proceed regarding these orders.

Ladd said it is his understanding, after much research, that there is nothing requiring him or his officers to enforce the executive orders, especially when he sees some orders that violate either the state or U.S. constitutions.

“There’s nothing in the constitution of the United States, there’s nothing in the constitution of the State of Illinois and there’s nothing in the ordinances of the City of Energy,” to support criminal enforcement of the executive order, Ladd said.

“He can make suggestions,” he said of his understanding of the governor’s powers in an emergency.

One document Ladd used to back up his decision was an internal memo issued by a lead member of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office. The memo, dated April 21, was from Chief Deputy Director David J. Robinson to Director Patrick J. Delfino. In it, he writes that he is not sure courts would uphold Pritzker’s limitations on restaurants, bars and public and private gatherings.

Read the complete story here.