Supreme Court Denies Nevada Church Request to be Treated the Same as the State’s Casinos
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a Nevada church’s request to be allowed to hold religious services with the same level of restrictions the state applies to the multi-billion dollar casino industry.
The church said Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order limiting church services to no more than 50 people while allowing casinos and other venues to operate at 50 percent of their maximum capacity was discriminatory.
The state of Nevada argued the limits were reasonable because:
…casinos are “highly regulated” industries that face “significant punishment” if they do not comply with COVID-19 restrictions and can be shut down quickly during a second wave of the pandemic. Indeed, the state continued, under the COVID-19 restrictions religious services receive better treatment than similar mass gatherings like lectures, concerts, sporting events and plays.
In a dissent, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that while Nevada’s willingness to “discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees” was no surprise, the court’s decision to let it happen was “disappointing.”
“We have a duty to defend the Constitution,” Alito said, “and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility.”
In a separate dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote:
“The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world,” Gorsuch concluded, “in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.”
Image Credit: Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons