Freedom to Worship Case Dismissed
During the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 30, 2020 Governor Pritzker issued an executive order that shut down all non-essential business operations and gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus, which effectively halted all in-person church gatherings.
This Order further stated that parties were permitted to leave their residence: “To engage in the free exercise of religion, provided that such exercise must comply with Social Distancing Requirements and the limit on gatherings of more than ten people in keeping with CDC guidelines for the protection of public health.” However, this severely limited churches with larger congregations; it also ignored the size of their buildings in proportion to those congregations.
Shortly after the Order, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries, decided to file suit to assert their freedom to worship in-person. They alleged that Governor Pritzker’s orders violated their rights under the First Amendment, RLUIPA, and RFRA.
Just recently this lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Robert W. Gettleman, who stated now that Governor Pritzker’s order has been inactive, the churches’ claims are no longer valid. However, this overlooks the fact that such an order could be reinstated in the future.
Mauck & Baker is currently local counsel in Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church et. al. v. Pritzker, but the case has been primarily handled by Liberty Counsel. To protect the interests of churches for the uncertain future, we are planning on appealing this decision.
See the Opinion Here: