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.
So, he admits nothing. Moreover:
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.
He then ducked and equivocated [like the cookie monster] when asked specifically, burying the fact that he was abandoning mandatory restrictions. [Such a clod] 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.”
But that’s not true.
The fibbery went to new heights.
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.
Lawyer in the case with something to say about this:
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.
Quite something. Yesterday’s Sun-Times called it “an against-the-odds bid,” Chicago Trib had nothing that an on-line search could uncover. Move on, nothing here, it seems, as of Friday early afternoon . . .