Tuesday, March 09, 2021

7th Circuit Denies Preliminary Injunction Against Prior Illinois Limits On Worship Services

In Cassell v. Snyders, (7th Cir., March 8, 2021), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to issue a preliminary injunction against a now-superseded Illinois COVID-19 order that prohibited public gatherings of more than ten people, including religious services. The court said in part:

Intervening authority from the Supreme Court offers plaintiffs a greater prospect for success on the merits of their First Amendment claim than either the district court or we had expected. See Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 141 S. Ct. 63 (2020). Yet recent Supreme Court authority has also indicated that equitable considerations weigh against granting a preliminary injunction at this time, when the prospect of irreparable injury to the plaintiffs is very low....

Even if the plaintiffs now appear more likely to succeed on the merits of their free exercise claim, there simply is no compelling need for preliminary relief against these long-expired orders, and there is every reason to expect that even if Illinois in the future believes some binding restrictions on worship services are needed, it will act with a close eye on the Supreme Court’s latest pronouncements on the subject, including the need for measures closely tailored to meet public health needs.

[Thanks to Jeff Pasek for the lead.]