Chicago-area churches ask U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in legal challenge to Pritzker

Chicago-area churches ask U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in legal challenge to Pritzker

Dozens of members of the Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church attend service on May 10, 2020 despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order that limits in-worship services to 10 people. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The odds of success by Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church of Chicago and Logos Baptist Ministries of Niles would seem low.

Two churches have taken their legal challenge against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to the U.S. Supreme Court in an against-the-odds bid to block the governor’s coronavirus restrictions.

Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church of Chicago and Logos Baptist Ministries of Niles filed an emergency application Wednesday seeking an injunction by Sunday against Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and his “Restore Illinois” plan. In the next phase of that plan, set to begin for most of the state this weekend, Pritzker allows gatherings of only 10 people or fewer.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked Pritzker to respond by Thursday night.

The two churches already have been shot down twice in their bid to block Pritzker’s orders — once by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, and once by a three-judge panel in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found Pritzker’s “executive order does not discriminate against religious activities.” Oral arguments in the 7th Circuit are set for June 12.

U.S. District Judge John Lee also declined to intervene in a separate lawsuit challenging Pritzker on religious grounds. Lee and Gettleman agreed that popular comparisons between churches and grocery or liquor stores are not apt. They said churches should be compared to schools or movie theaters or concert halls.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on the topic late last week, filing a statement in a separate, broader challenge to Pritzker’s orders that questioned the governor’s authority to extend his stay-at-home order beyond 30 days.

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