A divided U. S. Supreme Court denied a Nevada church’s request to strike down as unconstitutional a 50-person cap on worship services as part of the state’s response to the pandemic.
In a 5-4 decision, the high court refused to grant the request for Calvery Chaple Dayton Valley, to be subjected to the same coronavirus restrictions in Nevada that allow casinos, restaurants and other businesses to operate at 50% capacity with proper social distancing.
The church argued that the hard cap on religious gatherings was an unconstitutional violation of its parishioners’ First Amendment rights to express and exercise their religious beliefs.
Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal majority in denying the request.
“That Nevada would discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees may not come as a surprise, but this Court’s willingness to allow such discrimination is disappointing,” Justice Alito wrote in dissent along with Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom representing the church said in an email sent to The Associated Press, “when the government treats churches worse than casinos, gyms, and indoor amusement parks in its COVID-19 response, it clearly violates the Constitution.”