SCOTUS Door Remains Open for Romanian Churches

May 29, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court has chosen not to give an opinion on behalf of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries since Governor J.B. Pritzker removed all restrictions on churches and houses of worship in Illinois last night. 

Justice Kavanaugh “referred to the Court” for the motion for emergency injunction, meaning the case was considered by all nine Justices. The High Court stated, “The Illinois Department of Public Health issued new guidance on May 28. The denial is without prejudice to Applicants filing a new motion for appropriate relief if circumstances warrant.” In other words, the Court did not deny the motion based on the merits, but instead that the door remains open if Illinois imposes restrictions on houses of worship. 

The Justices gave this order in response to the two Romanian churches after they filed an emergency request pending the expedited appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in their federal lawsuit against Illinois Gov. Pritzker for his unconstitutional executive orders discriminating against churches. The Chicago Department of Public Health letter sent to the churches this past Saturday, May 23. The city is threatening closure and “summary abatement.” In the threatening letter, Commissioner Allison Arwady, who declared the churches a “public nuisance” for holding services with more than 10 people, wrote: “I am authorized to seek to enjoin such nuisance or to cause the same to be summarily abated in such manner as I may direct….” The letter ended by stating that “the City will take steps necessary to abate, including Summary Abatement.” 

Last night, less than four hours before the deadline for Gov. Pritzker to file his response to the Supreme Court to the 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. The governor is no longer imposing his draconian 10-person limit on church services. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “We are pleased that now there are no restrictions on houses of worship in Illinois. The Supreme Court made clear that if Gov. Pritzker changes course and reimposes restrictions on houses of worship, the doors of the Court remain open. The governor’s orders have been unconstitutional from the moment they were issued. It’s unfortunate that we had to drag Gov. Pritzker kicking and screaming to the High Court in order to make him remove these unconstitutional restrictions. Now justice has prevailed. This is a shot across the bow to any governors that if they violate the First Amendment right of houses of worship, the Supreme Court is watching and ready to remedy these unconstitutional actions.” 

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