Chicago, IL - The Illinois Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker late Monday night. The political organization states Pritzker is violating the First and 14th amendments for political parties. The Republicans state political events and rallies should have the same rights to gather as protesters have in recent weeks. Pritzker has also exempt religious organizations from the current 10-person limit on public gatherings.
"Unlike churches, political parties are barred from gathering in groups greater than 10 under the Governor's Executive Order 2020-38," the lawsuit states. "And unlike protesters against police brutality, they have not been given an exemption based on his sympathy, recognition, and participation."
The Will County Republican Central Committee, Schaumburg Township Republican Organization and Northwest Side GOP Club joined the statewide organization for the lawsuit. The Liberty Justice Center, a non-profit conservative group based out of Chicago, is representing the political organizations. The political organizations usually host more than 10 people for committee meetings and their annual state convention. They held a virtual event over the weekend to discuss their plans leading up to the 2020 general election.
Demanding equal rights to assemble
Their lawsuit accuses Pritzker of violating the First Amendment by treating the party differently from houses of worship and protesters. "When the state grants access to one set of speakers, it must give equal access and treatment to all speakers of a similar character." They state Pritzker is discriminating in favor of protesters and individuals with similar believes against Republican views. The groups also address the governor's participation in a peaceful march with protesters in Matteson.
"Though the government has a compelling interest here in preventing the spread of COVID-19, its restrictions are not narrowly tailored because it is exempting certain politically powerful or sympathetic groups while enforcing them against similarly situated actors who lack the same political favor of the Governor."
For similar reasons, the plaintiffs accuse Pritzker of violating the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.
The groups are also accusing the governor of enacting consecutive disaster declarations without legal authority to do so. This argument is central to several lawsuit cases against Pritzker, including a case led by Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia). They state the governor does not have emergency powers past the initial 30 days.
All four regions of the state could move into Phase 4 of Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan on June 26. At that point, groups could gather with up to 50 people. The state has seen a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the last several weeks. Pritzker says the state is doing well by following the scientific data and guidelines suggested by the Illinois Department of Public Health and other experts.
The Illinois Republican Party will hold a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss the lawsuit.