By: Mark Glennon*

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Thursday abandoned all restrictions in his emergency pandemic order related to religious services. The Illinois Department of Public health released replacement, voluntary guidelines.

The retreat came hours before the State of Illinois was due to file its response with the United States Supreme Court to an appeal by two Illinois churches for emergency relief from his stay-at-home order.

That appeal would have been handled by Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Elena Kagan who, according to a report by FOX News, could have either handled the case themselves or referred it to the full court. But now the state has told the Court that the churches’ request is moot because the mandatory rules have been dropped. The full text of the state’s response does nevertheless include the state’s argument on the merits of its defense.

Pritzker’s announcement that he had reversed positions was uncandid, to say the least.

In his prepared remarks at his daily press conference Thursday he said only that IDHP was posting the new voluntary guidance, but never said his mandatory restrictions were being cancelled. Those comments are below.

He then ducked and equivocated when asked specifically, burying the fact that he was abandoning mandatory restrictions. When finally asked directly whether the new guidelines would be enforced, he said, “As you know, I have never encouraged any police enforcement or any other kind of breaking up of gatherings.” The Q&A is also below.

But that’s not true.

While Pritzker has gone back and forth on whether enforcement of his order would be left to local officials, his most recent action was to threaten local police and enforcement officials who don’t enforce it. Chicago has been enforcing the order, sending police to break up church services, making parking for churchgoers impossible and fining churches. It was “like the Soviet-style KGB” said one pastor about how police tried to break up his service.

Pritzker can spin it as he wants, but here’s how counsel for some of the churches, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, correctly put it:

This is a total and complete victory for people of faith. The Illinois’ governor and his administration abused the COVID-19 pandemic to stomp on the religious liberty of the people of Illinois. By issuing guidelines only and not the previously announced mandatory restrictions, he has handed a complete victory to the churches in Illinois.

Why did Pritzker wilt? Why did he try to obscure his retreat?

Was it because his “science and data” somehow changed? Everything he does is based on that and anybody who doesn’t abide is costing lives, he says constantly.

Or was it because he feared having his vast emergency powers challenged in the United States Supreme Court?

I’d say the latter.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

Read more about COVID-19 and the impact on Illinois:

Pritzker’s Prepared Statement on May 28:

We will also be posting recommendations for houses of worship, providing more guidance for houses of worship in phase three. Having received many plans and ideas from responsible faith leaders, IDPH has reviewed many detailed proposals and has provided guidance, not mandatory restrictions for all faith leaders to use in their efforts to ensure the health and safety of their congregants. This includes suggestions on capacity limits, new cleaning protocols indoor gatherings of 10 persons or less a reduction of activities like sharing food, and the safe conduct of outdoor congregating. The safest options remain remote and driving services, but for those that want to conduct in person activities, IDPH is offering best practices.

Q&A After Pritzker’s Statement:

Question: Today five churches in Lake County filed a lawsuit against your administration. The  Christian Assembly of God says they run a food pantry out there, which gets state funding, 30 volunteers feeding 1200 people a week, but they can’t have more than 10 people on Sunday for phase three. How do you respond to that discrepancy which they say, just frankly is not fair to them?

Pritzker: Well as regards of food pantry you know I was in East St. Louis yesterday at a food pantry and like many nonprofit organizations they’ve had to make adjustments in order to keep their patrons safe you know to keep the people who use the food pantry safe. I know that lots of organizations have made those adjustments, it isn’t. Nothing is directed here at at a religious organization that happens to have a food pantry it’s really the idea here for everybody for everything and food pantry specifically is just to make sure that those who get served are served in a safe environment so you know we provide guidelines for different kinds of food service, and organizations, you know in grocery stores and so on. So I think those would apply here too.

Question: I’m sorry maybe the pastor is saying they have 30 people in working the food pantry. If they can have 30 people to work a food pantry, you’re going to find so they can only have 10 people in a service. And the discrepancy there has frustrated the pastor.

Pritzker: Well, again, we have guidelines that are now available for the afternoon on the or will be this afternoon on the dceo website. And those are our best recommendations. We’re not providing restrictions. We’re simply providing the best recommendations that we can for keeping people safe. So we hope that the pastor will follow that guidance and those recommendations for his services his or her services

Question: But if there’s no restrictions then you’re not going to be asking for any law enforcement?

Pritzker: As you know, I have never encouraged any police enforcement or any other kind of breaking up of gatherings. What I have said is that pastors should use their judgment and the science and data, and should follow the recommendations that have been made, but I realized that some have ignored that.

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Governor of Alderaan
1 month ago

Dictator for Life Jabba’s surrender was so complete it should have been held on the deck of the USS Missouri

MikeH
1 month ago

A shame that Roberts cast the deciding “Nay” vote. Then again, he was appointed by a member of the Bush crime family…

Bob
1 month ago

I think it all started to pile up on him. His family sneaking off to Florida and Wisconsin. The work being done by Illinois contractors in Wisconsin..Poopys suing him personally, losing in Clay county, other counties health departments giving places the OK to reopen…he was losing so badly he just cut and ran thinking he would save face and all will be forgiven. He is wayyyyy over his head and so is Lightbrain. The whole nation is laughing at them. They are probably relieved that some moron cop in Minnesota took the heat off them which only gives people like… Read more »

debtsor
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Jabba is a national embarrassment. And he knows it too. Because it’s a reflection on IL.

#RecallPritzger
1 month ago

Empty tent (JB) and empty suit (LL). Two folks who are unfit to govern – elected by the free-stuff crowd. LL is daft – she penalizes the decent citizens of the city while her zones of inequity are out shooting each other in record numbers. Wonder how she is going to save this Titanic once a bit of normalcy returns and reasonable people increase the speed of their exodus…

NiteCat
1 month ago

He had been told from the get-go that his rulings would not stand up in court here in IL or at the SJC in DC. By changing his mind about churches just before his court hearing, he thinks it will put the lawsuits to bed. It shouldn’t. The court(s) should rule just to remind him his powers are in fact limited. The man needs a beat down, fast.

Mark Felt
1 month ago

THe sad part is that Pritzker now knows the limits of his power and the next time there is an emergency event he will quickly push to and beyond it, before people can file an appeal.

Tom Paine's Ghost
1 month ago

The saddest part of this entire Supreme Court beat down on Pritzker is that it is not covered in the Chicago mainstream media at all. The Tribune article mentions the Supreme Court almost as an aside. Other than WGN there is no TV coverage of this slap down. Truly, we live in a media environment as tightly controlled as any that you’d find in a dictatorship. The former profession of Journalism should be ashamed and appalled……..but the wont feel any remorse because they are “Resisting”. Disgusting. It’s true that ‘democracy dies in darkness’. Especially when the light is smothered by… Read more »

Lyn P
1 month ago

Well said. Media has been re-forming into the Ministry of Truth for years and years. I weaned off of it over time without really trying. If I had ANY attention to it during the last three months I would have a NEGATIVE level of knowledge on the Co-hoax.

Richard Poo Millersky
1 month ago

Jay Bob could open the churches in Chicago today. Lori could close them again tomorrow, because Chicago has home rule. 😑

debtsor
1 month ago

“Or was it because he feared having his vast emergency powers challenged in the United States Supreme Court?” Yes, because he is acutely aware that he has become the national whipping boy second only to Gov Cuomo of New York. Tucker Carlson on Fox News would have loved to spend his first 10 minutes of his show beating on JB’s tyranny. JB knows he’s a national embarrassment and that his positions are undefendable. There would have been a million tweets in an hour about JB getting figuratively slaughtered like the fat hog he is in the SCOTUS. The ratios on… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by debtsor
Yoz
1 month ago
Reply to  debtsor

Having a big black mark of religious discrimination on his record would have hurt his chances to run for the Senate or the White House in the years ahead. Let’s be honest, his time as governor was only ever meant to be a temp job.

Last edited 1 month ago by Yoz
ConcernedExpat
1 month ago
Reply to  Yoz

I truly suspect he will be a 1-term gov anyway….

Yoz
1 month ago
Reply to  ConcernedExpat

If Dick Durbin croaks, don’t be surprised if he tries to set it up so that he can resign and then be appointed to the Senate by the Lt. Gov. He’s angling for the WH, which will never happen except as a department head, or the Senate.

Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Yoz

I wonder what the going rate for a senate seat is these days ? He missed the blue light special with Blago so now he may have to pay full retail

debtsor
1 month ago
Reply to  ConcernedExpat

His R opponents in a few years will have one campaign platform: Phase 5 the day he wins the election. Everyone will take off their masks and throw them in the air like graduates throw their tassels at commencement!

ConcernedExpat
1 month ago
Reply to  debtsor

I like Ives to run on that platform…

NB-Chicago
1 month ago

Where’s jbs side-kick Kwame on protecting the ignorent illinois church goer from themselfs?

Governor of Alderaan
1 month ago
Reply to  NB-Chicago

Kwame heard there were cameras rolling in Minneapolis so he ran there