Supreme Court denies Illinois churches’ request for action after state eases restrictions
The Supreme Court denied Illinois churches’ request to remove Illinois’s coronavirus restrictions after Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) lifted the measures voluntarily.
The decision comes a day after Pritzker declared that his state’s coronavirus restrictions were not mandatory for churches and other houses of worship. The decision effectively made the suit from Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries moot.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he would leave the door open to hearing the suit if circumstances changed in the state.
“The denial is without prejudice to Applicants filing a new motion for appropriate relief if circumstances warrant,” he wrote.
The churches originally brought the law suit against Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, prohibiting public gatherings like ones that take place during religious services.
Under the new guidances issued by the state’s department of health, places of worship are advised that holding drive-thru and remote services is still highly recommended, but not mandated.
Liberty Counsel, which represents the churches, said Pritzker only backed down because of the threat its lawsuit posed.
“The only thing that changed was he was dragged to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said in a news release. “While we are happy that all churches and houses of worship no longer have any restrictions, we want to make sure this tyranny and abuse never happens again.”
The high court could still receive challenges from other churches across the country against their states’ restrictions on houses of worship.
California’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a restriction by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) capping church services at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less, raising the prospect of an appeal.