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Can President Trump or Illinois Governor Pritzker force me to stay home?

Posted by Joshua R. Evans | Mar 20, 2020 | 4 Comments

First and foremost, I am an injury lawyer who sues the government for constitutional violations. These are sometimes called civil rights violations. Understand that is how I see the world. I know a little bit about civil liberties and when the government infringes on them. We've sued and litigated against Grafton, Carrollton, White Hall, Roodhouse, Metro East, Madison County, Greene County, Jersey County, and the State of Illinois. Here is my take and legal breakdown of the Order from Governor Pritzker.

Governor Pritzker just announced that Illinois' citizens will be "sheltering in place" starting Saturday, March 21, 2020. It sounds like a demand and not a request. President Trump is echoing that sentiment. That raises a legal question. Can either of these men order me to stay in my home? The short answer is no. (Before you get bent out of shape read this whole thing or skip to the next bolded sentence).

However, there are additional layers to this question that need unpacked. To understand the basic issues underlying the question, we have to go back to junior high civics class (or law school for some of us). There is both a federal and state constitution. The framers of the U.S. Constitution were worried about too much power going to the federal government. So, they built in this protection called the 10th Amendment. In fairness, this Amendment was added later, but this is a blog post and not a history lesson. This Amendment reserves any powers not specifically delegated to the federal government to the states. Meaning President Trump doesn't have the power to tell citizens of Illinois to stay least he can't force them. What about Governor Pritzker? He is after all in charge of a state. He is charged with protecting the health and welfare of his citizens by the U.S. Constitution.

This is where the question becomes a little closer, but ultimately, the answer is no. Governor Pritzker by design has the right to regulate the health and safety of his citizens. Yet, Governor Pritzker cannot tread of the liberties, including freedom of movement, set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Governor Pritzker can and did shut down establishments which require licenses from the state (bars and restaurants). He can and will control the movement on roadways, which effectively shuts us all down (in the greater Madison County, Illinois area). 

What does this all mean? It means stay home. Even if we don't have to. Stay home as much as possible. 

Over the next few days, I will be discussing what rights you have against local cops, the state, and the federal government. The purpose isn't to get you amped up to take our Country back. It is just to arm you with information so if this "shelter in place" time extends and things start getting hairy, you know your rights. If you want free advise, stay calm. Stay inside and subscribe for free legal information to help you get through this time.

You have the right to go to the store and other places, but the question is should you do so? You have the right not be harassed by police in going about your day, but you should be courtesy to everyone (while maintaining social distancing). While the government has the right to shut down the operations of certain businesses that require a license to operate, closing an entire state's commerce is not found in any constitutional doctrine. While the words martial law will be kicked around by the pundits, the actual Order by the Governor Pritzker boils down to "please keep you distance from others". And maybe...wash your hands. 

About the Author

Joshua R. Evans



kent white Reply

Posted Mar 21, 2020 at 11:01:04

josh, dottie has a 1 chair beautysalon operated at home solely by her . she is open 2 days aweek most of her clients have been with her 30 years or longer.since liquorstores are considered essential to the economy how about her situation. as i had told you previously she dont make a lot but every bit helps our bottom linen. also i still have yet to receive those papers you need signed. thanks

Dennis Mouser Reply

Posted Mar 22, 2020 at 02:30:38

I just want the public to understand just because stores offer special shopping hours for seniors, it doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed. Wear a face mask, wear disposable gloves, wipe down baskets or carts and keypads at the checkout. Stores won’t enforce safe distancing. That’s up to you. Be prepared there will be younger people that don’t follow the rules by staying out. I personally rounded a corner in a store only to come up on a 30’s something girl coughing into her sleeve several times. She was very sick, but just couldn’t resist staying in self quarantine. It’s best to stay home until you absolutely need to go out. Just be health smart when you do it.

Joshua R. Evans Reply

Posted Mar 22, 2020 at 09:36:10

Dennis, we agree. Stay home if you can. Thanks for your thoughtful response. Stay safe!!

Joshua R. Evans Reply

Posted Mar 22, 2020 at 09:36:40

Kent, thanks for this information. We will follow-up with you.

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