The Illinois Republican Party along with the Will County Republican Central Committee, Schaumburg Township Republican Organization, and Northwest Side GOP Club have been denied by a U.S. District Judge preliminary relief to hold an outdoor picnic on July 4th or a rally and indoor convention ‘at some point’ due to the ongoing pandemic.
A temporary complaint and temporary restraining order along with the preliminary injunction were filed on June 15th in an effort to hold such political party rallies with more than 50 people.
Preliminary relief was sought out by the various organizations after allegations the Governor has declined to enforce his executive order against protesters following the death of George Floyd. The organizations claimed their rights were being violated under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Governor Pritzker had created an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech.
Currently, Illinois has a 50 person gathering limit.
Under the ruling, filed on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis, Ellis cites the balance of harms that comes along with gatherings.
In the ruling, Judge Ellis said, “The balance of harms further confirms that Plaintiffs are not entitled to preliminary relief.” Judge Ellis cited examples of Executive Order exemptions for exercising freedom of religion, emergency functions, and governmental functions.
On May 29, 2020, the Governor included the following related to the claim in the Executive Order:
“[D]oes not limit the free exercise of religion. To protect the health and safety of faith leaders, staff, congregants and visitors, religious organizations and houses of worship are encouraged to consult and follow the recommended practices and guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health. As set forth in the IDPH guidelines, the safest practices for religious organizations at this time are to provide services online, in a drive-in format, or outdoors (and consistent with social distancing requirements and guidance regarding wearing face coverings), and to limit indoor services to 10 people. Religious organizations are encouraged to take steps to ensure social distancing, the use of face coverings, and implementation of other public health measures.” The order reads, cited under the ruling.
“There is no doubt that Illinois is in the midst of a serious public health crisis,” Judge Ellis wrote in her 13-page ruling. “Plaintiffs have not shown how this exemption is a plain invasion of their constitutional rights. Plaintiffs have failed to point to a single instance in which they, or anyone similarly situated, protested with political messages and state officials enforced the Order against them because of this content.”