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Supreme Court Rejects Churches on Covid-19 Restrictions (1)

May 29, 2020, 11:42 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on behalf of two Chicago-area churches that said Illinois coronavirus restrictions were so strict they violated the Constitution.

In a three-sentence order Friday, the court pointed to new rules the state issued this week. Starting Saturday, churches won’t be subject to mandatory restrictions and will instead be asked to follow guidance from the state’s health department.

Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries sued over Governor J.B. Pritzker’s April 30 stay-at-home order, which barred gatherings of more than 10 people. The churches said that order discriminated against houses of worship by keeping restrictions on in-person services even as other types of establishments were reopening.

Illinois said the rules were reasonable given that church services can involve large numbers of people singing and talking in confined spaces, which could potentially spread the Covid-19 virus. A federal appeals court sided with the state.

The Supreme Court is still weighing a similar request lodged by a California church. California has let churches partially reopen, limiting attendance to 100 attendees or 25% of capacity, whichever is lower.

The case acted on Friday is Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church v. Pritzker, 19A1046. The California case is South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, 19A1044.

(Updates with California case in sixth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net

Laurie Asséo, John Harney

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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