Romanian Churches Return to District Court

Mar 29, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Liberty Counsel will file a motion for summary judgment to the district court 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 these churches by restricting in-person worship services to no more than 10 people. 

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the churches’ cert petition with a note that Justice Amy Barrett took no part in the consideration of the petition. Justice Barrett was on the bench at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals when it denied the preliminary injunction, and when the churches filed a petition with the Seventh Circuit requesting rehearing en banc with the entire panel of judges. The petition for rehearing en banc would have placed this case on her desk and on the desks of all the judges to consider the petition. This is no doubt the reason why Justice Barrett took no part in the consideration at the Supreme Court. 

The most likely reason the Supreme Court denied the petition for cert is because there would only be eight Justices to consider the case, which means the case could end up with a 4-4 split decision. 

Liberty Counsel will now return to the lower District Court considering the now overwhelming number of decisions from the Supreme Court and other federal courts of appeal striking down discriminatory executive orders against churches and places of worship.

Under Gov. Pritzker’s executive orders, churches can have an unlimited number of people for nonreligious activities to feed, shelter, and provide social services, which includes unemployment or disability counseling. However, religious gatherings, in the same church with the same people, was limited to 10. These restrictions were removed in May 2020, when Liberty Counsel filed a petition for an injunction pending appeal at the Supreme Court. However, during oral argument last year at the Court of Appeals the Governor argued that he should be able to impose his discriminatory orders once again. 

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an emergency petition for an injunction pending appeal on behalf of New York City synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo and Agudath Israel v. Cuomo, lifting New York’s COVID-related limits on attendance at worship services. 

Liberty Counsel has the case of Calvary Chapel of Bangor still pending at the Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel won a 6-3 decision on February 6, 2021, at the Supreme Court striking down the total ban on worship in California on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry. That case is now pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The pastors and the Romanian churches are resolved to continue to fight for religious freedom. It is time to stop the abuse of the First Amendment once and for all.” 

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