Illinois Republicans sue Gov. Pritzker over right to assemble
On Monday, the Illinois Republican Party filed a lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker over their right to assemble as a political party during the coronavirus pandemic. The suit cites violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. It claims that while religious groups and protesters are allowed to convene in groups greater than 10, political groups are not allowed to gather.
“Democrats in the state hold almost every lever of power, and the only thing providing a check on their power, the Illinois Republican Party isn’t even allowed to get together to meet or to properly plan and network for an election that is only five months away,” said Illinois Republican Party Co-Chairman Tim Schneider. “This is fundamentally wrong, and as this lawsuit contends, a violation of our First Amendment right.”
Last week Pritzker marched alongside protesters to fight police brutality. He has defended his protest appearances as exercising his First Amendment right.
Schneider says that Pritzker’s appearance at recent protests are hypocritical of his own orders.
“It’s clear the governor keeps one set of rules for the people in politically advantageous photo ops and another for the rest of Illinois,” Schneider said.
The party’s suit says that in-person contact is the most persuasive form of communicating ideas and is vital with the 2020 election coming up in November.
“Yet, unlike churches, political parties are barred from gathering in groups greater than 10 under the governor’s executive order. And unlike protesters against police brutality, they have not been given an exemption based on sympathy, recognition, and participation,” the suit says.
The Republicans say they need to gather in person for their annual convention, as well as informal strategy meetings before November.
“There simply is no substitute for the energy, enthusiasm, personal connections to a candidate and media coverage generated by a rally, a bus tour or a fly-around. Politics is a people business and it is most effective when people connect in person,” the lawsuit said.
The governor’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, released a statement after the lawsuit was filed saying Republicans were just looking to earn political points.
“This is about scoring political points and criticizing civil rights protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Abudayyeh. “The courts have repeatedly upheld the Governor’s executive orders as based on public health guidance. And as the Republicans who attended protests against the public health guidance are well aware, the State has never prevented people from exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Pritzker recently removed his official limits on the size of church-gatherings after several other lawsuits.
Scroll down to comment!