The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Friday declining to immediately halt enforcement of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s discriminatory restrictions on churches during the coronavirus pandemic:
“The First Amendment requires the government to treat religious organizations, at a minimum, the same as comparable secular organizations. When the government treats churches worse than casinos, gyms, and indoor amusement parks in its COVID-19 response, it clearly violates the Constitution. As Justice Samuel Alito noted, ‘The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine, or to engage in any other game of chance.’ While we are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court denied our request for relief, we will continue to seek to protect Calvary Chapel and other churches from discriminatory policies that put religious groups at the back of the line for reopening.”
In his dissent, Alito added, “I would grant an injunction pending appeal. Calvary Chapel is very likely to succeed on its claim that the directive’s discriminatory treatment of houses of worship violates the First Amendment.”
Sisolak’s rule allows casinos, restaurants, bars, theme parks, and gyms to operate at 50% capacity but restricts churches to gatherings of 50 or fewer people, regardless of building size or safety precautions taken.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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