Illinois Governor Pritzker Wants to Weasel Out of Religious Liberty Lawsuit


CHICAGO, IL — Liberty Counsel filed a response on behalf of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries regarding Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit for his unconstitutional executive orders.

Under Gov. Pritzker’s previous executive orders, churches could 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, were 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. Therefore, there must be a judicial declaration to prevent Governor Pritzker from imposing his restrictions again.

Liberty Counsel will also soon file a motion for summary judgment to the district court on behalf of the two Romanian churches. The case goes back to the district court since the U.S. Supreme Court denied the churches’ cert petition with a note that Justice Amy Coney 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.

This week, after 52 Sundays, the city of Chicago dismissed both “disorderly conduct and mob action” citations against Pastor Cristian Ionescu of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Pastor Florin Cimpean of Philadelphia Romanian Church of God, which Liberty Counsel also represents, for holding a morning and an evening service on May 17, 2020. The pastors were charged for having more than 10 people in their large sanctuaries for worship.

Last September, the city of Niles dropped all four “disorderly conduct” citations against Pastor Daniel Chiu of the Romanian church Logos Baptist Ministries. Pastor Chiu received the $800 fine for holding peaceful morning and evening worship services for two consecutive Sundays.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to leave the door open so he can have a reason to impose his restrictions again. However, the pastors and the Romanian churches are resolved to continue to fight for a permanent injunction against that. He must never be allowed to extend his dictatorial hand again.”

Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.