* United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit the other day on a motion for an emergency injunction filed by Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church…
IT IS ORDERED that plaintiffs-appellants’ emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal, filed on May 15, 2020, is DENIED. Based on this court’s preliminary review of this appeal for purposes of this motion, we find that plaintiffs have not shown a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits to warrant the extraordinary relief of an injunction pending appeal.
The Governor’s Executive Order 2020-32 responds to an extraordinary public health emergency. See generally Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905). The Executive Order does not discriminate against religious activities, nor does it show hostility toward religion. It appears instead to impose neutral and generally applicable rules, as in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990).
The Executive Order’s temporary numerical restrictions on public gatherings apply not only to worship services but also to the most comparable types of secular gatherings, such as concerts, lectures, theatrical performances, or choir practices, in which groups of people gather together for extended periods, especially where speech and singing feature prominently and raise risks of transmitting the COVID-19 virus.
Worship services do not seem comparable to secular activities permitted under the Executive Order, such as shopping, in which people do not congregate or remain for extended periods. Further, plaintiffs- appellants may not obtain injunctive relief against the Governor in federal court on the basis of the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Frank H. Easterbrook, Michael Stephen Kanne and David Hamilton issued the order. Easterbrook and Kanne were both nominated by President Ronald Reagan.
…Adding… As if on cue…