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Case Name The Beloved Church v. Pritzker FA-IL-0017
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-50153 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID 19 Summary: The federal district court denied an injunction blocking application of Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker's stay-at-home order against churches. The plaintiff church has appealed.


In his COVID-19 “stay-at-home” executive orders, J. B. Pritzker, the governor of ... read more >
COVID 19 Summary: The federal district court denied an injunction blocking application of Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker's stay-at-home order against churches. The plaintiff church has appealed.


In his COVID-19 “stay-at-home” executive orders, J. B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, required churches to discontinue all in-person services, including drive-in services. The Beloved Church of Lena, a church of 80 congregants, alleged that the governor’s orders violated the congregants’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and similar rights under the Illinois Constitution. Represented by the Thomas More Society, the Beloved Church and its pastor filed this Section 1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, on April 30, 2020, and, simultaneously, sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The Complaint sought injunctive relief, declaratory relief, damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees . The defendants were the governor of Illinois; the sheriff of Stephenson County, Illinois; the Department of Public Health of Stephenson County; and the Chief of Police of the Village of Lena.

The plaintiffs alleged that the governor’s stay-at-home orders in March and April, expected to extend at least through May, were unconstitutional both facially and as-applied. Facially, the orders did not protect the church’s constitutional rights of freedom of religion, speech, or assembly, nor its right to due process. They alleged that because establishments from liquor stores to dog groomers to golf courses were allowed to remain open under the executive orders, the governor discriminated against people of faith by prohibiting religious services. As applied, prominent government officials had violated the stay-at-home orders with no consequence, and many jurisdictions around the state had declined to enforce the orders at all. By contrast, the church had received cease-and-desist letters from the county sheriff and Department of Public Health, threatening civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance.

In consequence of the cease-and-desist letters, the plaintiffs alleged in their motion for a temporary restraining order that in order to hold worship services on May 3, they needed emergency injunctive relief from the court.

Additionally, they alleged that regardless of the constitutionality of the orders, the governor lacked statutory authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to extend the state of emergency (at thus the stay-at-home order) past April 7. On April 30, the governor issued a new executive order which reclassified religious worship as "essential." The new executive order permitted religious gatherings, but limited the size of gatherings and required social distancing measures.

On May 3, Judge John Z. Lee denied both the temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction, writing that the “societal and political debate about how to balance [COVID-related] interests is beyond the purview of this Court.” Cassell v. Snyders, 2020 WL 2112374 (May 3, 2020).

The plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, and on May 5 asked Judge Lee to issue an injunction against the defendants while the case was pending appeal. The following day, Judge Lee denied the motion for injunction pending appeal. On June 26, the defendant sought to stay proceedings pending the appeal.

The appeal is ongoing, and a status hearing is set for August 10.

Gregory Marsh - 08/13/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Buildings
Disparate Treatment
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
State law
Defendant(s) Chief of Police of the Village of Lena
Governor of Illinois
Stephenson County Department of Public Health
Stephenson County, Illinois
Plaintiff Description Small evangelical Christian church and its pastor
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 04/30/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:20-cv-50153 (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint [ECF# 1 & 1-2]
FA-IL-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 6]
FA-IL-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 7]
FA-IL-0017-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
The Governor's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 26 & 26-1]
FA-IL-0017-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Sheriff Snyders and Administrator Beintema's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 27]
FA-IL-0017-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant, Steve Schaible's Response to Plaintiffs' Request for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 29]
FA-IL-0017-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
The Governor's Supplemental Filing in Response to the Court's May 1, 2020 Minute Order Regarding Drive-In Services [ECF# 32]
FA-IL-0017-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Reply in Support of Their Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 33]
FA-IL-0017-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Declaration of Plaintiff Stephen Cassell in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 34]
FA-IL-0017-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 39] (2020 WL 2112374) (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0017-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal and Memorandum of Law [ECF# 47]
FA-IL-0017-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants Stephenson County Sheriff Snyders and Health Department Administrator Beintema's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for an Emergency Injunction Pending Appeal [ECF# 50]
FA-IL-0017-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
The Governor's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for an Injunction Pending Appeal [ECF# 51]
FA-IL-0017-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Steve Schaible's Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal [ECF# 52]
FA-IL-0017-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Johnston, Iain D Court not on record show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-9000
Lee, John Zihun (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0010 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Breen, Peter C. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0001 | FA-IL-0017-0002 | FA-IL-0017-0003 | FA-IL-0017-0008 | FA-IL-0017-0011 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Brejcha, Thomas (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0001 | FA-IL-0017-0002 | FA-IL-0017-0003 | FA-IL-0017-0008 | FA-IL-0017-0011 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Jacobi, Benjamin Matthew (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0006 | FA-IL-0017-0012 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Whittaker, Martin J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0001 | FA-IL-0017-0002 | FA-IL-0017-0003 | FA-IL-0017-0008 | FA-IL-0017-0011 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bauer, Kelly C. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0004 | FA-IL-0017-0007 | FA-IL-0017-0013 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Burke, Darron M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-9000
Casey, Kevin Mark (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0005 | FA-IL-0017-0014 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Dworkin, Hal (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0004 | FA-IL-0017-0007 | FA-IL-0017-0013 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Green, Thomas A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-9000
Lanzito, Dominick L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0005 | FA-IL-0017-0014 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Newman, Sarah Hughes (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0004 | FA-IL-0017-0007 | FA-IL-0017-0013 | FA-IL-0017-9000
O'Grady, Paul A (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0005 | FA-IL-0017-0014 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Pottinger, Robert C. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-9000
Raoul, Kwame (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0004 | FA-IL-0017-0007 | FA-IL-0017-0013
Rees, R. Douglas (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0004 | FA-IL-0017-0007 | FA-IL-0017-0013 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Turiello, Jennifer Lynn (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0005 | FA-IL-0017-0014 | FA-IL-0017-9000
Wells, Christopher Graham (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0017-0004 | FA-IL-0017-0007 | FA-IL-0017-0013 | FA-IL-0017-9000

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