Supreme Court Won’t Consider Pandemic Restrictions On Houses Of Worship

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The Supreme Court refused to consider a case on Nevada’s restrictions in places of worship, NBC News reported.

The Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church in Reno, Nevada, appealed the Court of Appeals decision claiming that these restrictions violate a person’s religious freedom. Attorney generals from 19 states have sided with the church in an effort to uphold religious freedom across the country while states continue to place restrictions on houses of worship, AP News reported.

“This petition is the court’s last opportunity to issue a merits opinion this term settling how lower courts analyze the interplay between COVID-19 emergency orders and free exercise rights,” wrote a lawyer for Calvary Chapel in their court filings Thursday. Calvary claims they are treated more harshly than other public facilities, according to NBC.

Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak had imposed a 25% capacity limit in public places and allows 50 people to attend a religious service, NBC News reported. Lawyers defending the state told the Supreme Court that these restrictions apply to all public places and does not single out houses of worship.

The Supreme Court has previously refused the church’s request to increase the limit of attendance in a 5-4 decision in June. The 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco sided with the church saying it is unconstitutional for Nevada to treat casinos and restaurants better than places of worship, AP News says.

Throughout the spring and summer, the Supreme Court has refused to lift restrictions on religious gatherings in California, Nevada and Illinois, says NBC News. However, the court blocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s order to limit church attendance to ten people in areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases and have ordered lower courts in New Jersey, California and Colorado to reconsider their limits.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford argued the justices should let the federal court in Reno settle the issue rather than taking the case to the Supreme Court since the situations in each case regarding restrictions are different.

“This is a poor vehicle for addressing the questions beyond those the 9th Circuit already resolved in Calvary’s favor,” Ford wrote in a court filing last week.

The Supreme Court rejected the case without explanation.

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