Supreme Court Justices Dissent on Policy Limiting Church Crowds

Supreme Court Justices Dissent on Policy Limiting Church Crowds

The US Supreme Court recently upheld a policy in Nevada that allows only 50 worshippers in churches at a time. This is happening while Nevada casinos are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

No violation of the US Constitution

4 of 5 justices said Friday that the state’s policy does not violate the Constitution which protects the free exercise of religion. According to CNN, attorneys for the Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley in Dayton, Nevada said that the state’s policy treated churchgoers differently compared to visitors of gyms, restaurants, and casinos.

Supreme Court Justices Dissent on Policy Limiting Church Crowds

UNLV’s Boyd School of Law Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law, Anthony Cabot commented,

“Treating churches and casinos under different rules during the COVID-19 pandemic is and will remain controversial.” He added, “More specifically, the [Nevada] State Gaming Control Board has used a significant portion of its workforce to monitor compliance with social distancing and PPE [personal protective equipment]. It is two different approaches to addressing a single threat, but recognizing different enforcement capabilities.”

He noted that both the rules and the systems of enforcement are also different in churches and casinos. According to Cabot, this case suggests that the government can make some tough choices. Attorneys for the state of Nevada said that putting temporary restrictions in place on the size of mass gatherings is pivotal in protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Nevada.

Some justices sided with the church

Some associates justices sided with the church. While Chief Justice John Roberts sided with progressive associate justices of the high court, justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito were in favor of the church. Justice Alito noted that the Constitution speaks about the freedom to exercise religion but has nothing to say on the freedom to gamble. He further claimed that the Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, has different priorities. He said that a public health emergency doesn’t give Governors the authority to disregard the US Constitution.

Justice Gorsuch said that the world we are living in has posed unusual challenges but the Constitution does not favor Caesars Palace over the Calvary Chapel. He said that a multiplex could host 500 moviegoers and casinos can also have hundreds of guests while churches can only have 50, regardless of the size of the building and the enforcement of social distancing norms.

About sherlock

Sherlock Gomes loves to write and express his views on anything related to Gaming, Gambling, & Casino. He has been covering Gaming for more than two years now.