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Case Name Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church v. Pritzker FA-IL-0018
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-02782 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: On May 7, two churches in Illinois sued the Governor of Illinois, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Governor’s stay-at-home order and restoration plan, which limited gatherings to 10 or fewer people. The court denied the request for a TRO on May 13, the ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: On May 7, two churches in Illinois sued the Governor of Illinois, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Governor’s stay-at-home order and restoration plan, which limited gatherings to 10 or fewer people. The court denied the request for a TRO on May 13, the Seventh Circuit denied the plaintiff's request for an injunction pending appeal, and the Supreme Court denied the appeal on May 27. On June 16, the Seventh Circuit affirmed.


On May 7, the Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries filed this action against Governor J.B. Pritzker, seeking to overturn the restrictions on religious activities imposed by the stay-at-home order and his “Restore Illinois” plan. The plaintiffs brought this case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois as a declaratory action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02, and as an injunctive action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and state law. Specifically, the two Chicago-area churches argued that the plan, which continues to limit in-person gatherings to 10 or fewer people for the first 3 phases and threatens criminal sanctions for noncompliance, was unconstitutional. The case was assigned to Judge Robert W. Gettleman and Magistrate Judge Judge Jeffrey I. Cummings.

On May 8, the plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the government from enforcing the gathering orders, which would keep the plaintiffs and their congregants from being subject to criminal sanctions for hosting in-person worship services where they were implementing social distancing and hygiene protections.

On May 13, the district court denied the request for TRO and preliminary order, finding that “[t]he Order, without doubt, is rationally based in light of the need to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois.” Judge Gettleman, pointing out that none of the those participating in the religious activity were wearing protective masks, claimed that the plaintiffs’ request and “blatant refusal to follow the mandates of the Order are both ill-founded and selfish.” 2020 WL 2468194.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit the next day requesting an injunction pending appeal, which was denied on May 16. 2020 WL 2517093. On May 27, the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 29, the Governor issued Executive Order 38, which supersedes the Executive Order at issue. The new order removed the limitations on religious gatherings and specifically exempted the free exercise of religion from the restrictions outlined in the order. The defendants moved to dismiss the appeal the same day, claiming that the case has become moot as the restrictions underlying plaintiffs’ request for preliminary injunctive relief are no longer in effect.

The same day, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the application for injunctive relief, citing a new public health guideline issued on May 28 by the Illinois Department of Health. 2020 WL 2781671.

On June 2, the defendant moved to stay pending appeal. The plaintiffs did not oppose the motion, and the court granted the stay on June 8.

On June 16, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the injunction, finding that religious services were analogous to congregate functions that occur in auditoriums, such as concerts and movies. Such indoor activities put "members of multiple families close to one another for extended periods, while invisible droplets containing the virus may linger in the air." They stated that unlike some necessary activiites, like meatpacking warehouses or care for the elderly, religious gatherings could alternatively happen through the internet, small worship gatherings, or drive-in services. Ultimately, they held that the new Executive Order had not discriminated against religion, and thus had not violated the First Amendment. 2020 WL 3249062.

The plaintiffs requested a rehearing on July 10, which was denied on July 27.

The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 09/14/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
State law
Defendant(s) Governor of Illinois
Plaintiff Description Two churches in Illinois seeking injunction against the Governor's stay-at-home order and restoration plan preventing large gatherings
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
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 05/07/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-02782 (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages (Part 1) [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-3)]
FA-IL-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages (Part 2) [ECF# 1-3 to 1-11]
FA-IL-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages (Part 3) [ECF# 1-11]
FA-IL-0018-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages (Part 4) [ECF# 1-11 to 1-14]
FA-IL-0018-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Damages (Part 5) [ECF# 1-14 to 1-22]
FA-IL-0018-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 5]
FA-IL-0018-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Motion to Transfer Venue and Reassign Case [ECF# 18]
FA-IL-0018-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
The Governor's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 21]
FA-IL-0018-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply in Support Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 25 (& 25-1 to 25-4)]
FA-IL-0018-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 33] (2020 WL 2468194) (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0018-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/13/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Application for Writ of Injunction Relief Requested Before May 31, 2020
FA-IL-0018-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Response in Opposition to Emergency Application for Writ of Injunction
FA-IL-0018-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2020
Reply in Support of Emergency Application for Writ of Injunction Relief Requested Before May 31, 2020
FA-IL-0018-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/2020
Order in Pending Case (2020 WL 2781671)
FA-IL-0018-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/29/2020
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division [Ct. of App. ECF# 72] (2020 WL 3249062)
FA-IL-0018-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0015
Gettleman, Robert William (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0010 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gannam, Roger K. (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0001 | FA-IL-0018-0002 | FA-IL-0018-0003 | FA-IL-0018-0004 | FA-IL-0018-0005 | FA-IL-0018-0006 | FA-IL-0018-0007 | FA-IL-0018-0009 | FA-IL-0018-0011 | FA-IL-0018-0013 | FA-IL-0018-0015 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Leahu, Sorin A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0006 | FA-IL-0018-0007 | FA-IL-0018-0009 | FA-IL-0018-0015 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Mauck, John W. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0006 | FA-IL-0018-0007 | FA-IL-0018-0009
Mihet, Horatio G. (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0001 | FA-IL-0018-0002 | FA-IL-0018-0003 | FA-IL-0018-0004 | FA-IL-0018-0005 | FA-IL-0018-0006 | FA-IL-0018-0007 | FA-IL-0018-0009 | FA-IL-0018-0011 | FA-IL-0018-0013 | FA-IL-0018-0015 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Schmid, Daniel Joseph (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0001 | FA-IL-0018-0002 | FA-IL-0018-0003 | FA-IL-0018-0004 | FA-IL-0018-0005 | FA-IL-0018-0006 | FA-IL-0018-0007 | FA-IL-0018-0009 | FA-IL-0018-0011 | FA-IL-0018-0013 | FA-IL-0018-0015 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Staver, Mathew D. (Florida) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0001 | FA-IL-0018-0002 | FA-IL-0018-0003 | FA-IL-0018-0004 | FA-IL-0018-0005 | FA-IL-0018-0006 | FA-IL-0018-0007 | FA-IL-0018-0009 | FA-IL-0018-0011 | FA-IL-0018-0013 | FA-IL-0018-0015
Defendant's Lawyers Bauer, Kelly C. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0008 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Dworkin, Hal (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0008 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Gallo, Sarah Jeanne (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-9000
Gupta, Priyanka (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0012 | FA-IL-0018-0015
Helfrich, Gretchen (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-9000
Hunger, Sarah Ann (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0012
Newman, Sarah Hughes (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0008 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Notz, Jane Elinor (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0012
Raoul, Kwame (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0008 | FA-IL-0018-0012
Rees, R. Douglas (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0008 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Wells, Christopher Graham (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0008 | FA-IL-0018-9000
Wichern, Nadine J (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0012
Other Lawyers Azmi, Nimra H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0015
Katskee, Richard B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0015
Luchenitser, Alexander Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0015
Morris, Hal R (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0015
Solomon, Benna R. (Illinois) show/hide docs
FA-IL-0018-0015

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