(The Center Square) – A Sangamon County judge has come under advice in a legal challenge to Governor JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 orders that affect college sports.
Lawyer Laura Grochocki represents the mother of Trevor Till, an 18-year-old who committed suicide in October. She filed a lawsuit against the governor over his COVID-19 bans, which prevented certain college sports from competing for most of last year.
The case is an equality challenge claiming the governor exceeded his authority in blocking college sports while allowing college and professional sports to continue.
On Wednesday, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow heard oral statements on plaintiffs’ motion to summarize the verdict. The judge requested another round of filings and responses to Pritzker’s motion to dismiss in the coming weeks with deadlines for each side.
Grochocki pleaded for a summary judgment and told the court on Wednesday afternoon during a conference call with Zoom that the governor was breaking equal protection laws by imposing state regulations on college sports without improving college or professional sports.
“The problem is discrimination against different classes of athletes based on the age and wealth of the organization that sponsors them. Wealthy athletes, high-performing college and professional sports leagues that are worth a lot of money and likely have a lot of political influence had the opportunity to determine for themselves what was safe and what was not, ”said Grochocki. “This is a fundamental violation of the same protection, which is unreasonable, irrational, arbitrary and imposed without a legitimate state interest.”
While the first lawsuit was filed in December when high school sports like soccer and basketball were banned from competing according to the governor’s instructions, those sports were resumed, but Grochocki said student athletes are still required to wear masks during college and university Professional teams don’t do this.
She said that her clients’ children, suffering from depression and other mental health problems, were irreparably harmed, including loss of future athletic opportunities, because they were unable to stand in front of Boy Scouts.
The governor’s attorney said college and professional athletes have the resources to compete safely and Grochoski has failed to prove violations of the same protections.
“It is not a violation of the same protection if the government passes sensible regulation that applies to some people within a category but not to everyone within a category,” said Darren Kinkead, attorney who represented Pritzker in the virtual courtroom. “It is not a violation of the same protection if the government chooses to address part of the problem but not the entire problem.”
After almost two hours of argument, Grischow took the matter up under discussion. Dates have been set for responses to the governor’s motion to dismiss the case.
The case of the Sangamon County Circuit Court is 21-MR-295.