Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, residents have faced some of the most stringent and legally questionable COVID restrictions in the country. They have been masked for nearly the entire pandemic and Chicago families have been forced to fight for schools to simply reopen. Now, just as the country is reopening rapidly, life is getting harder, not easier, for these Illinoisans.
On January 3, 2022, both Chicago and Cook County adopted orders requiring anyone above the age of 5 to show proof of receiving the COVID vaccine to dine indoors, visit gyms, or enjoy entertainment venues. The requirements have barred families from dining together, seeing movies, and visiting museums. People have lost jobs over their vaccination status.
Now, the Liberty Justice Center has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 8 residents of Chicago and Cook County to end the City of Chicago and Cook County’s illegal and discriminatory “proof of vaccination” requirements.
“After nearly two years of restriction, isolation and division, it feels like life in the Chicago area is getting worse, not better,” said Courtney Connolly, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and Chicago resident. “These requirements are not protecting anyone. They’re not about public health. The orders are about ostracizing and shaming people who disagree with the point of view of the government by prohibiting them from participating in life – and these government officials are so ruthless that they have imposed these mandates on residents as young as 5. That’s wrong. It must end and never be permitted again.”
The federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Chicago and Cook County residents claim the orders violate the rights of equal protection, due process and freedom of religion provided by the U.S. Constitution, while also violating state law, the Illinois state constitution and Chicago’s own municipal code.
The lawsuit comes at a time when almost the entire country does not have a mask mandate for participating in civic life or in schools, or any “proof of vaccination” requirement for soliciting private businesses. It also comes one day after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the impending end of one of the country’s few remaining statewide indoor mask mandates. Meanwhile, Americans now have a wide toolkit to protect themselves and determine their personal risk tolerance for the virus. Not only that, but hospitalization rates are also plummeting due to the natural seasonality of the virus, irrespective of these illegal and unscientific mandates.
Case status: On April 20, 2022, attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of the case. Cook County and Chicago dropped mask and proof of vaccination requirements within weeks of the lawsuit. LJC remains committed to protecting Chicago and Cook County residents from unlawful restrictions in the future.