Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) finally broke on allowing churches to begin meeting in person after the Supreme Court ordered him to respond to an emergency injunction filed by two churches in the state.
Pritzker is one of the “shutdown six,” a phrase coined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to describe the six Democrat governors that have still refused to lift many coronavirus restrictions on their states.
Two Illinois churches, represented by Liberty Counsel, filed the emergency injunction against Pritzker’s prohibition of church services on Thursday, and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ordered Pritzker to respond by 8:00 p.m. the same day.
Pritzker released new “guidelines” for reopening churches in the state on Thursday evening, effectively lifting bans on gathering in houses of worship. The guidelines function as suggestions and are not legally enforceable.
Liberty Counsel filed the emergency injunction due to a threatening letter sent to churches on Sunday by the Chicago Department of Public Health which warned that churches meeting with more than 10 congregants would be designated a “public nuisance.”
Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady wrote in the letter that “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 City will take steps necessary to abate, including Summary Abatement.”
Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver blasted the blatant overreach, saying:
The unilateral actions of Gov. J.B. Pritzker is the classic example of tyranny. He knew he did not have authority to trample on the First Amendment rights of churches and houses of worship, but he did anyway and continued to do so until his case reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
Pritzker, along with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, has drawn considerable attacks for blatant abuses of power to extend shutdowns far past their expiration dates and unfairly targeting religious gatherings.