Since March 2020, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has placed strict limits on gatherings of greater than 10 individuals due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even when Illinois enters Phase 4 of its reopening plan, currently scheduled for June 26, 2020, crowd sizes will remain limited to 50 people.
Although the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois continues to drop, Pritzker has said that limits on gatherings will remain in place until a “vaccine or an effective treatment” is found. Meanwhile, the governor has marched in and endorsed the speech of other advocacy groups who have held large-scale rallies in recent weeks.
The issues Illinois Right to Life works on are deeply personal. They are not easily discussed over the internet; in-person, human-to-human interactions are the best ways for the organization to compassionately share its views. But the governor’s executive order prohibits Illinois Right to Life from hosting in-person events and activities. Rallies, workshops, fundraisers and educational programs are rendered impossible. The governor’s restrictions stifle Illinois Right to Life’s ability to share their message with the public.
Illinois Right to Life v. Pritzker centers on the governor’s willingness to excuse certain organizations and First Amendment expressions from the limits in his executive orders, but not the rest of Illinois – including Illinois Right to Life.
Illinois Right to Life v. Pritzker is part of a series of lawsuits filed by Liberty Justice Center attorneys against Gov. Pritzker over constitutional violations during the coronavirus pandemic. First, Liberty Justice Center attorneys represented Salem Media and journalist Amy Jacobson in Salem Media v. Pritzker after the governor banned Jacobson from press briefings. In a victory for First Amendment rights, the governor’s office reversed its decision and reinstated Jacobson’s press credentials. In a second case, the Liberty Justice Center represents the Illinois Republican Party in a challenge on the governor’s ban on gatherings.