Illinois Governor Decided March for Justice Was 'Essential'

Crowd in Chicago protests against injustice. (Unsplash/Max Bender)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined hundreds of demonstrators Monday in a "march for justice." Gov. Pritzker was one of several elected leaders who spoke at a rally promoting police and criminal justice reform. Ironically, the rally was organized by and occurred in front of a church—Victory Apostolic Church—in Matteson.

Gov. Pritzker participated in the rally in spite of his attempt to ban churches from holding in-person gatherings of more than 10 people until phase four of his Restore Illinois Plan, and gatherings of more than 50 for one year.

His executive orders previously did not allow worship services that include more than 10 people, regardless if participants meet or exceed 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.

Liberty Counsel represents Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries and will present oral argument to a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, June 12. The two churches sued the governor and are seeking judicial declaration for his unconstitutional executive orders. The appeals court ordered expedited briefing with oral argument. Liberty Counsel also filed a supplemental brief today illustrating the fact that the governor is ignoring his own stated concerns regarding COVID-19 by attending large gatherings, walking and speaking within inches of numerous people and making body contact with them.

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Less than 4 hours before the deadline for Pritzker to file his response to the Supreme Court for Liberty Counsel's emergency injunction request, the governor unilaterally removed all restrictions on churches and houses of worship. The guidelines are now only suggestions and contain no legally enforceable requirements whatsoever. Though the governor is no longer imposing his 10-person limit on church services, without legal declaration, he can reverse his orders again.

Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver commented on the governor's recent actions.

"Suddenly Gov. Pritzker decided it was 'essential' to join throngs of people at a march organized by a church," Staver says. "However, churches have had to fight for their First Amendment right to meet because of his draconian restrictions. The governor's orders have been unconstitutional from the moment they were issued, and Liberty Counsel has had to drag him to court to remedy these actions once and for all."

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