CHICAGO, IL – Liberty Counsel filed the final reply brief to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries in their federal lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his unconstitutional executive orders discriminating against churches.
The Court of Appeals ordered expedited briefing and has already scheduled oral argument for June 12. Instead of taking many months or more than a year to complete an appeal, this appeal has been fast-tracked.
Within a few hours after two Romanian churches filed an emergency injunction pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Kavanaugh ordered Gov. Pritzker to respond by 8:00 p.m. on May 28. Just hours before his deadline to respond to the High Court, Gov. Pritzker removed ALL restrictions by issuing “guidelines,” none of which are mandatory.
However, unless and until there is a judicial declaration that Governor Pritzker has acted unconstitutionally thus far, there is nothing keeping him from changing his mind again, whether in this crisis or any future crisis. Governor Pritzker has shown himself quite willing to overrule the Constitution by fiat. In doing so, he has caused incalculable damage to the Romanian churches Liberty Counsel represents and all the houses of worship in the state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders did not allow worship services that include more than 10 people, regardless if participants meet or exceed the appropriate social distancing and hygiene guidelines, while allowing so-called “essential” commercial and non-religious entities such as liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, warehouse clubs, and ‘big box’ stores to accommodate large crowds and masses of persons without scrutiny or the 10-person limit. This 10-person limit applies to all churches, including large churches that have multiple meeting venues, like these two churches.
Prior to the lifting of ALL restrictions on churches and houses of worship, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot used aggressive, thug-like tactics, including placing “No Parking” signs for all street parking around nine blocks; towing the cars of the neighbors; blocking the entrance to the private parking lot with police cars; issuing “Disorderly Conduct” charges for having church with more than 10 people, and issuing a letter declaring the church services with more than 10 people a “public nuisance” and threatening “Summary Abatement,” which includes destruction of the buildings.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “A few hours before Gov. J.B. Pritzker had to file with the Supreme Court, he removed all restrictions on churches. While we are happy that all churches and houses of worship no longer have any restrictions, we want to make sure this abuse of churches never happens again.”
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