Conservative lawmakers blasted Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts after he sided with the court’s liberal wing in a 5-4 decision Friday that rejected a Nevada church’s request to block the state government from enforcing a cap on attendance at religious services.
Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrade negotiations mustn’t short-circuit domestic debate Tea Party rises up against McConnell’s trillion relief plan GOP may face choice on tax cut or stimulus checks MORE (R-Texas) tweeted early Saturday morning that Roberts had “abandoned his oath.”
John Roberts has abandoned his oath.
But, on the upside, maybe Nevada churches should set up craps tables? Then they could open? https://t.co/6pWoOwg9ts
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 25, 2020
“What happened to that judge?” tweeted Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonWSJ editorial board calls employee concerns about opinion page ‘cancel culture’ Conservative think tank director says Lincoln Project members beholden to pro-business Republicans Tom Cotton rips NY Times for Chinese scientist op-ed criticizing US coronavirus response MORE (R-Ark.).
“Freedom of religion is our first freedom. Yet SCOTUS has ruled that casinos can host hundreds of gamblers, while churches cannot welcome their full congregations. Justice Roberts once again got it wrong, shamefully closing church doors to their flocks,” Cotton added in a statement.
John Roberts at his hearing: “If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy’s going to win in court before me.”
What happened to that judge?
He didn’t mention his belief that casinos have more rights than churches. https://t.co/KjpyLbkIMo
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) July 25, 2020
The decision strikes down a suit from Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, which argued that it was being treated unfairly compared with other businesses in the state. While places of worship in Nevada have a hard 50-person limit amid the coronavirus pandemic, businesses such as casinos and restaurants can operate at half of their fire-code capacities. This discrepancy was a violation of the First Amendment, the church asserted in the suit.
Defending its imposed restrictions, Nevada stated that its regulations didn’t target places of worship unfairly, saying that other large gatherings — such as concerts and movie showings — were treated “the same as or worse than houses of worship.”
The complaint made its way to the highest court in the land after being rejected by a district court and a circuit court.
Three of the conservative justices wrote dissenting opinions on the emergency order.
“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” Justice Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoSupreme Court again rejects church challenge to virus restriction Should we judge judges by whether their decisions appeal to us? The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Supreme Court allows federal executions in 2 a.m. decision MORE wrote in dissent. “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. But the Governor of Nevada apparently has different priorities.”
“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. We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility,” he added.
This is the second time the Supreme Court has ruled against a church challenging a capacity restriction during the pandemic. In May, the court ruled 5-4 in a similar case, turning away a challenge from a California church.