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ILGOP’s attempt to have its gatherings treated the same as religious services met with skepticism by federal appellate court

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Andrew Maloney at the Daily Law Bulletin

A federal appeals court greeted the Illinois Republican Party’s challenge to the governor’s limit on public gatherings with skepticism this week.

A 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel had a barrage of questions Tuesday for the lawyer representing the state GOP, which claims it should be allowed to hold gatherings of more than 50 despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s pandemic guidelines to the contrary.

The Illinois Republicans and other Republican organizations claimed the Democratic governor’s orders violate the First Amendment because they carve out an exemption for churches. The plaintiffs also claim Pritzker created another exemption by endorsing protests against racial injustice.

But if the governor didn’t draw constitutional lines in his executive orders, the three judges asked, where should they be drawn?

Judge Diane P. Wood said if the Republican Party is exempt from the regulations, “I see no logical stopping point.”

* Lauraann Wood at Law360

Counsel for the Illinois Republican Party urged a three-judge panel during oral argument to revive its bid to hold gatherings larger than the 50-person limit set in the latest coronavirus safety order, arguing the exemption for religious gatherings should apply to all protected First Amendment expression. But U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett said the party seems to be comparing its asserted speech rights to a group that has “an additional interest” under the amendment, which is the right to freely exercise religion. […]

Daniel Suhr of the Liberty Justice Center argued the party should receive the same exemption as religious groups because both religious and political speech rights “live at the heart of the First Amendment.” But Judge Barrett pushed back on that stance, saying the amendment itself treats free speech and free religious exercise “a little bit as apples and oranges” since they’re separated into two distinct categories. […]

U.S. Circuit Judge Amy St. Eve said the party’s argument leaves the court wondering where it would draw a line distinguishing First Amendment rights about political speech from First Amendment rights “about some other cause.”

Suhr argued in response that “it’s the governor’s job” to draw that line. But U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood quickly rebuffed that stance, saying it was the party’s job, “since you’re the one who’s attacking the governor’s executive order for not drawling the line that you think should have been drawn.”

“You should have some theory of relief,” she said.

There’s more in both stories, so click those linkies.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

12 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 2:19 pm:

    Meh.

    Can’t the Raunerites argue they’re a cult of personality?

    Kinda covers a whole bunch of things, using religious props too.

    /Snark


  2. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 2:19 pm:

    Ridiculous hill for them to die on. The money being spent on this (wherever it’s coming from) should be spent on the campaign season in their target house races…going through all of this to hold a convention and score some far-right points is not worth the money. Why would anyone donate to this party?


  3. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 2:20 pm:

    Who still supports this party?

    Should they really be calling themselves republicans anymore?


  4. - Roman - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 2:21 pm:

    From “Airplane!”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhU7Fgw5PmI


  5. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    I am annoyed that I was too late to be first with the “makes sense, they’re a cult” comment. I guess some of us have WORK to do, Willy.


  6. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 2:45 pm:

    It seems to me that with few exceptions the Courts around the country are for the most part giving deference to the government in its their responses to the pandemic. It seems the Courts find that the pandemic provides a compelling government interest for the actions being taken by governments. I’m glad the Courts seem to be utilizing common sense as they balance the law with the needs of government to act during a pandemic.


  7. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    Soccermom, LOL. He was probably the kid in school who was always first to raise his hand too. Just some good natured ribbing OW. :)


  8. - Pundent - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 5:21 pm:

    The ILGOP would be better off in advancing legal arguments rather than political ones.


  9. - JoanP - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 5:59 pm:

    =The ILGOP would be better off in advancing legal arguments =

    They don’t have any.


  10. - cudawodashuda - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 7:49 pm:

    There are two Republican Party’s in Illinois. Tim Schneider and the Illinois State Central Committee and more important the Illinois Republican Voters. We need new leadership but we, the Republican people & voters will do what needs to be done ourselves.


  11. - Anon324 - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 8:14 pm:

    Two of the three judges on the panel were Trump appointees. When they lose 3-0, what excuse will they come up with?


  12. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Aug 12, 20 @ 8:35 pm:

    If the ILGOP is a religion, pretty sure the IRS frowns on them engaging in political speech.


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