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Lawsuit challenges Gov. Pritzker's authority to issue school mask mandate

"We're seeking a determination from the court that says Gov. Pritzker can't take the power away from the local school districts,” said Thomas DeVore

CARLYLE, Ill. — School is back in session in some Illinois districts and a newly filed lawsuit is seeking to block mandatory masking in the classroom.

Clinton County, Illinois, may only have a population of just over 35,000 but it’s quickly becoming the front line in the fight against mask mandates.

"My son has asthma so that's a concern for me wearing a mask all day, 8 hours a day having asthma,” said Tina Waner.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker effectively removed districts' ability to have control of the decision-making process when he announced a statewide school mask mandate.

"We have the legal authority to enforce this and we will if necessary,” said Gov. JB Pritzker.

However, a lawsuit filed in Clinton County Circuit Court by attorney Thomas DeVore questions if that’s actually the case.

"We're seeking a determination from the court that says Gov. Pritzker can't take the power away from the local school districts," said DeVore.

Much of the suit centers around HB2789, which DeVore says would have given the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education the ability to create enforceable guidance during a time of emergency.

Though HB2789 passed the Illinois House it stalled in the Senate in the spring.

"They're taking the very actions that the legislature didn't authorize, and the Governor is trying to say that he has the power to make that happen,” said DeVore.  “Really what he's doing is trying to supplant the authority of the legislature because they didn't pass that bill."

While it’s unclear whether the suit will advance in court it’s already receiving mixed reviews in the court of public opinion.

"It's better safe than sorry,” said Stephanie Lybarger.  “If you can get vaccinated, get vaccinated."

"It should be our child, our decision.” said Waner.  “In the end, that's what I hope."

DeVore is not seeking an injunction in the case which was set to be heard by a circuit court judge Tuesday, Aug. 17 in Carlyle. However, on that day both sides agreed to a continuance. There is no new date for the hearing.

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