Supreme Court rejects Nevada church plea to allow larger congregation

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  gordy327  •  3 weeks ago  •  25 comments

Supreme Court rejects Nevada church plea to allow larger congregation

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a Nevada church's request to block the state's cap on attendees for religious services amid the coronavirus pandemic. The court voted 5 to 4 against the request, filed by Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal-leaning justices. The decision keeps in place a limit of 50 people in houses of worship due to the pandemic. The church had argued the cap was an unfair attack on its First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. It pointed out that the state allowed higher caps for restaurants and casinos — 50 percent capacity — but would not let its 90-person congregation assemble, even with social distancing protocols. A federal court upheld the state's policy, and the church sought an appeal last month at the 9th Circuit.

The conservative justices wrote in their dissent that the decision revealed preferential treatment for for-profit enterprises over houses of worship.

"The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges," Justice Neil Gorsuch, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote. "But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel."

The Supreme Court's decision was issued without comment. But in his June decision against the church, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware wrote that other secular institutes that partake in activities similar to a house of worship are also restricted. Other venues with congregating audiences — such as museums, movie theaters and concert venues — are subject to similar or stricter restrictions, he wrote.

"It is not enough for Calvary to demonstrate that the directive is intermittently not being enforced against secular activities," Boulware wrote in his decision. "Calvary must also demonstrate that Defendants are only enforcing the directive against places of worship."

He also rejected the comparison between houses of worship and casinos, pointing out they operate differently and that casinos also remain constricted by substantial Covid-19-related regulations issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The Supreme Court in May   struck down   a plea from a San Diego church that California's lockdown order was inhibiting its right to free religion. That decision also fell narrowly along ideological lines, with Roberts siding with the liberal faction. Roberts argued against the court intervening in states' responses to a public health crisis.

"The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement," Roberts wrote at the time.


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Gordy327
1  seeder  Gordy327    3 weeks ago

A good call by the Court. We're in the middle of a pandemic and experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis. No one should have free reign to flaunt the rules or means of protection just because they feel their sensibilities or "rights" are being violated.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Gordy327 @1    3 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
devangelical
1.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    3 weeks ago

religious cults have proven to be far more deadly...

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
1.1.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    3 weeks ago

Unfounded speculation.  Actually, it doesn't even rise to that level.  Petulant whining.

 
 
 
Gordy327
1.1.3  seeder  Gordy327  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    3 weeks ago

Way to go off topic!

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
2  Vic Eldred    3 weeks ago

In some respects I can't really complain, but I know deep down that Justice Gorsuch had it right:

"There is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel."

 
 
 
Gordy327
2.1  seeder  Gordy327  replied to  Vic Eldred @2    3 weeks ago

The opposite is also true.

 
 
 
TᵢG
2.2  TᵢG  replied to  Vic Eldred @2    3 weeks ago
There is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel

True, but that over-simplifies the problem and actually spins (via the word 'favor').   There is a substantial difference between a church and a casino.   While I hold that both should be able to conduct their activities, the safe method for doing so varies due to the nature of the activities and the physical characteristics of the structures.

see TiG @4 for supporting argument.

 
 
 
Ender
2.2.1  Ender  replied to  TᵢG @2.2    3 weeks ago

I agree. It is like some are saying there should be a one size fits all approach.

That would be impossible when different establishments have different needs and ways of operation,

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
3  sandy-2021492    3 weeks ago

I agree that churches should have limited capacity, but so should casinos and restaurants.  Yes, I know it's 50% of the building capacity, but clusters around gaming tables will happen, and people have their grubby paws all over slots machines, likely with little sanitizing between gamblers.

I still haven't dined in at any restaurants.  If there is no outdoor seating, we either don't eat there, or get takeout (or, much more often, cook at home.  Got any menu ideas?).

 
 
 
Gordy327
3.1  seeder  Gordy327  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3    3 weeks ago
I agree that churches should have limited capacity, but so should casinos and restaurants. 

Many states have capacity limitations for pretty much everything right now.

but clusters around gaming tables will happen, and people have their grubby paws all over slots machines, likely with little sanitizing between gamblers.

The same holds true for any establishment designed to foster socialization, like churches and bars.

I still haven't dined in at any restaurants.  If there is no outdoor seating, we either don't eat there, or get takeout

Many restaurants still only have take out and/or outdoor dining.

(or, much more often, cook at home.  Got any menu ideas?).

What are you in the mood for? I know a chicken or seafood dish or 2.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
3.1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Gordy327 @3.1    3 weeks ago
The same holds true for any establishment designed to foster socialization, like churches and bars.

Agreed.  That's why I have to say that I agree with that portion of Gorsuch's dissent.  Not that it means I think churches should open, but that there should still be tighter restrictions on casinos, restaurants, etc.

Many restaurants still only have take out and/or outdoor dining.

Where I am in Virginia, most restaurants are now open for indoor dining, so long as parties can be seated 6 feet apart.  One popular restaurant in our town is still only doing takeout, but it's the only one I know of.  Most people I know are opting mostly for takeout as a safer option.  They've even allowed buffets to reopen.  No way I'm eating at a buffet right now.

What are you in the mood for?

I was kidding.  Mostly.  Seriously, one of the hardest things about this has been coming up with dinner ideas that don't involve eating out.  Which probably means we were eating out too often before the pandemic.  But when  my tastes in food and my son's conflict, coming up with a menu is a pain.

 
 
 
Ender
3.1.2  Ender  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.1.1    3 weeks ago

It feels like I always make the same things. Over and over.

What I have been craving is a really good steak. They have gotten so expensive around here it is almost cheaper to have a steak at a restaurant. Though I haven't been to one since this started. Don't plan on it anytime soon either, except I have done takeout.

I also miss some good sushi.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
3.1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  Ender @3.1.2    3 weeks ago
It feels like I always make the same things. Over and over.

Same.

For a while, there was a shortage of meat here, and what you could get was not exactly top quality.  Even skinless chicken breasts, which are usually easy to find, needed a lot of trimming, and some looked like they had been mangled during processing.  Not very appetizing.

We had some outbreaks at local poultry processing plants, which likely explains it.

I'm thinking of getting half a side of beef from a local farmer.

 
 
 
charger 383
3.1.4  charger 383  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.1.3    3 weeks ago

The BBQ place and the seafood truck (that hasn't moved in years) and mine and the neighbor's grill have been keeping me fed

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
3.1.5  sandy-2021492  replied to  charger 383 @3.1.4    3 weeks ago

I don't care for seafood.  I'm not a big BBQ person, either, but I might have to try it, just for variety.

We had Mexican yesterday, and managed to eat outdoors in the time between some pretty strong thunderstorms.  We were still drying out from one that hit while we were in the Costco parking lot.

 
 
 
TᵢG
4  TᵢG    3 weeks ago

Every public site should abide by the same precautions in principle.    However, because the physical characteristics and nature of activity in each site varies, no one set of rules will work for all.

Seems to me all sites should find a way to achieve social distancing guidelines (one of the key principles here).   If the site can physically allow for it, everyone (except those who live in the same home) should stay at least 6' apart.   So in a restaurant, for example, the tables would be separated.   In a church, every other pew would be used (with separation between households on the used pews).   When people are actively talking loudly (more air force from lungs), singing (as in church; especially when in unison), shouting, breathing heavily (as in a gym) then the social distancing should be greater and/or a stricter use of masks.

This is not hard to figure out.   But it is silly to think a rule such as 50% capacity (a very common rule) can simply be applied to all venues.   The capacity for a theater is very high due to the compact seating whereas the capacity for a gym is not due to the natural separation between equipment, walkways, etc.   Thus 50% capacity for a theater may be too high;  it might need to be something like 30%.   Similarly, the capacity for a church, bar, etc. where people are also inherently cramped together is different than that for a casino, museum, library, etc. where some (if not all required) natural separation already exists.

In short, the principles are the same, but the application varies per type of venue (and indeed per specifics of each building).   Common sense should rule because the safety principles are very easy to understand. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1  TᵢG  replied to  TᵢG @4    3 weeks ago

Addendum:   another important characteristic is mobility.   In a church, restaurant, etc. it is very difficult to quickly move elsewhere (e.g. if someone coughs or gets too close to you).   In a casino, library, museum, etc. one can rather quickly exit an area they feel might be compromised.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
4.1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  TᵢG @4.1    3 weeks ago

This.  One of my fears for my mom's safety at church was that hers is a hugging church.  The pastor hugs everyone, and most of the congregation does the same.  It is considered rude not to reciprocate.  She assures me that now, there is no hugging or handshaking, every other pew is blocked off, almost everyone is wearing a mask (a "muh rights" woman), and over half of the congregation is streaming the service rather than attending in person, anyway.

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.2  TᵢG  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.1    3 weeks ago

Sounds like they are being sensible.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
4.1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.2    3 weeks ago

They are now.  They were slow to change when the pandemic hit the US, until their county became one of WV's hot spots.  For weeks, they still had in-person services, hugging included.  With the average member age probably in the 70s, it seemed reckless to me.  Glad they wised up.

 
 
 
Gordy327
4.1.4  seeder  Gordy327  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.3    3 weeks ago
They were slow to change when the pandemic hit the US,

To be fair, most everyone was, especially the government. 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
4.1.5  sandy-2021492  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.4    3 weeks ago

True.

One of my friends posted a meme on Facebook about being in the weird position of telling their parents to stay home.  A good description of how my sister and I felt about Mom and her church.  Dad was much more careful from the start, and I'm glad.  He's 72 and diabetic, although it's under good control and he's very active.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
5  Sean Treacy    3 weeks ago

Short and sweet from Gorsuch:

This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10- screen “multiplex” may host 500 moviegoers at any time. A casino, too, may cater to hundreds at once, with perhaps six people huddled at each craps table here and a similar num- ber gathered around every roulette wheel there. Large numbers and close quarters are fine in such places. But churches, synagogues, and mosques are banned from ad- mitting more than 50 worshippers—no matter how large the building, how distant the individuals, how many wear face masks, no matter the precautions at all. In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment pro- hibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel

 
 
 
TᵢG
5.1  TᵢG  replied to  Sean Treacy @5    3 weeks ago

I agree with the case made in your example.   Casinos should abide by social distancing.   So crap tables, for example, would have far fewer players and should impose wearing of masks due to the shouting that takes place.

The rules will vary per venue, but the safety principles should apply equally to all (since safety is ultimately the goal, right?).

 
 
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