Illinois AG Challenges Court Ruling, Says Passage of ‘Protecting Illinois Communities Act’ Was Legal

According to the Illinois Attorney General, if the legislature fails to follow constitutionally-prescribed procedures, the court is not the proper venue for a complaint.

In response to a temporary restraining order (TRO) from 14th Circuit Court Judge Joshua Morrison against the Protecting Illinois Communities Act, lawyers for Attorney General Kwame Raoul wrote that “the 1970 Constitutional Convention … ‘determined that the legislature would police itself with respect to procedure’.”

On Monday, Raoul’s lawyers petitioned the court to rescind the TRO claiming that the plaintiffs failed to meet the legal threshold. In a statement released that day, Raoul expressed confidence that the new law would eventually be upheld in court.

“Over the last few years, my office has become accustomed to facing a barrage of challenges to newly-enacted state statutes and executive orders. As we have done previously, we are prepared to defend the Protect Illinois Communities Act in courtrooms around Illinois,” Kwame’s statement reads.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks in Chicago, Ill., on Aug. 4, 2021. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former Republican Illinois Attorney General candidate Thomas DeVore has sued Raoul, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, speaker of the Illinois House Emanuel Christopher Welch, and Senate President Donald Harmon on behalf of Accuracy Firearms LLC and 866 other plaintiffs from 87 Illinois counties.

The lawsuit claims the Act violated an Illinois State Constitutional requirement that legislation covers only one subject.

They said the law began as a run-of-the-mill insurance regulation. However, the bill’s contents were entirely changed just moments before the final vote, and the sponsors were able to introduce strict gun control regulations with little or no public input.

The state Constitution requires three readings of a bill before passage. The plaintiffs claim that all the readings of the bill in question were done while the legislation only discussed insurance adjusters.

Morrison granted the TRO.

“Except for the record of actions, the public record regarding this bill, including the hearings that were held, was almost entirely regarding this bill as an insurance regulation,” Morrison’s order reads.

Raoul’s office counters that the Illinois Constitution only tasks legislative leaders with confirming that all legal requirements are met with the passage of each bill. They said that courts have repeatedly implemented the “enrolled bill doctrine,” which assumes that if a law is certified by legislative leaders, it has been done so in adherence to all the correct rules of procedure—and that courts cannot invalidate laws based on procedural issues.

people killed in the Fourth of July mass shooting
people killed in the Fourth of July mass shooting
Visitors pay their respects at altars for the seven people killed in the Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill., on July 7, 2022. (Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo)

In their response, the defendants also wrote that the single-subject rule only applies to the “Act on its face, not prior versions of the bill as introduced or as it made its way through the legislative process.”

Since the law that has passed deals primarily with firearms regulation, it does not violate the single subject rule, the lawyers wrote.

“As a result, plaintiff’s arguments about how the original content of House Bill 5472 pertained to insurance regulation are simply irrelevant,” their response reads.

‘Irreparable Harm’

Judge Morrison also ruled that the law causes the plaintiffs irreparable harm by violating their Constitutional Rights, that there is no adequate legal remedy for this harm, that the plaintiffs will be successful if the case goes to court, and that it violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The defendants took issue with these claims as well.

They counter that many defendants are retailers who will still be able to sell the restricted weapons, though only to specific groups; including the military, law enforcement, and others with special skills or training.

They claim that the only harm these plaintiffs would realize would be reduced sales. They then suggested that as these sales are quantifiable financially, the plaintiffs could sue the tax-payer-funded state for damages if they wished to make up those lost sales.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Law enforcement escorts a family away from the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., on July 4, 2022. (Mark Borenstein/Getty Images)

They argue that under the Illinois Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is not considered a fundamental right and that even the Second Amendment does not specify the types of weapons citizens may possess.

“The selection of particular arms is not part of the right to bear arms,” the response reads.

Also, the defendants deny the plaintiff’s claim that they are being denied equal protection under the law since some groups would be allowed to possess the designated weapons and others would not. They claim that those allowed to keep the guns have specialized training and a need for the weapons in their work to maintain public safety.

The Act defines a so-called “assault weapon” as a semiautomatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and features a pistol grip or thumbhole stock, a flash suppressor, a grenade launcher, a barrel shroud, or other features.

Pistols Included in Ban

A semiautomatic pistol that accepts a detachable magazine or may be modified to accept one, has a threaded barrel, a second pistol grip, a flash suppressor, a barrel shroud, or other features also fall into this category, as do most AK and AR-style rifles. Also banned by the law are .50-caliber firearms.

Existing banned firearms are grandfathered under the law if the owners register them and pay a fee. Under the Act, the term of an Illinois Firearms Restraining Order (FRO) law is also extended from six months to one year. And the list of persons who can ask the court for a FRO was expanded.

A FRO is also known as a “red flag law” and authorizes the confiscation of firearms owned by people who are considered to pose a risk to themselves or others. Gun rights supporters oppose these laws as they may not provide enough due process protection for the person whose property is being taken.

The attorney general’s lawyers are asking the court to rescind the TRO.

“This law is an important tool in our fight to protect Illinois residents from gun violence, and in the event that a court stays the statute’s effective date pending appellate review, we are committed to pushing for a quick resolution,” Kwame’s statement reads.

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