Roberts Blows Ruling On Church Capacity

Roberts Blows Ruling On Church Capacity

Roberts Blows Ruling On Church Capacity

With rulings like these from Chief Justice John Roberts, one has to wonder exactly what a Justice Harriet Miers would have been like.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in a yet another split decision on a COVID-19 related restriction on religious gatherings in the state of Nevada. At the heart of the issue was the 50 person cap on religious services, while casinos and other entertainment venues were able to operate at 50% capacity. The state obviously wants the revenue in a bad way thanks to all the shutdowns, but this is obvious discrimination and a trampling of religious liberty.

Well, not so obvious when it comes to Chief Justice Roberts. Given the chance to stand up for religious liberty, and for putting some kind of restraint on the government’s ability to infringe on rights during a pandemic (apparently religious freedom rulings must be pandemic-free), Roberts took a pass.

The decision was a 5-4 ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal wing.”

The court’s order was unsigned and did not provide any reasoning, common practice when the high court acts on emergency applications. The court’s conservative justices filed three dissents.”

The decision comes in response to a suit from Calvary chapel Dayton Valley arguing that it was being treated unfairly compared to casinos, restaurants and amusement parks. Churches in the state have a firm 50-person limit, while other businesses have been told to cut their availability to half of their fire-code capacities.”

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” Justice Samuel Alito 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,” he added. “We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility.”


Each of the dissents are worth reading – Alito, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch each wrote one – but Gorsuch’s dissent is only one paragraph long. And yet it really says everything that needs to be said.


Senator Ted Cruz was more blunt when it came to his opinion of Chief Justice Roberts in this case.


Also pointing out the terrible precedent being set was Senator Tom Cotton.


Nevada clearly has a double standard when it comes to the entertainment industry (where the state can make most of its tax revenue between sales taxes and gaming taxes) and religious exercise. It would be one thing if the casinos could only have 50 people inside at a time. But to declare one arbitrary limit on religious services, while allowing for half capacity for entertainment, is just blatant favoritism. Calvary Chapel turned to the courts to be their defender of religious liberty, and their backstop against a capricious state government. John Roberts looked at this case, looked at how his colleagues were lining up, and took the coward’s way out. He didn’t even have to bother explaining his reasons, which makes it almost worse. It’s one thing to see bad reasoning. It’s worse to have the ruling handed down from on high with no comment.

Thanks for proving to be a disappointment yet again, Chief Justice.

Featured image via Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

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5 Comments
  • Scott says:

    Sadly, far too many “justices” appointed by republicans have turned out to be closet liberals / statists, regardless of how they present themselves during their confirmations. Ones appointed by democrats though can always be counted on the be at least as liberal as they claim.
    Roberts isn’t just a disappointment, he’s an embarrassment, and a traitor to his oath. Like the rest of the left wing of the court, he seems to take pride in wiping his ass with the Constitution.

  • John says:

    Yes, it is sad that so few can properly interpret the simple text, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

  • Ted says:

    Regrettably, to set up a church casino in Nevada, one runs afoul of the Gaming Commission run by Sisolak, and the anti-gambling strictures of many religious groups. ::LE GRAN SIGH::

  • James Raclawski says:

    when the final arbitrator of the Constitution issues self-evident unconstitutional readings based upon unsound-illogical – warpped-twisted dysfunctional cognitive skills… again resulting in UNCONSTITUTIONAL ramblings… those said “ramblings” must be ignored… the CONSTITUTION is clear in its declaration of the inalienable nature of religious freedom-liberty

  • Sam says:

    How’s that old piece of paper protecting you? Not so well from the looks of it. Then again, how well did those pieces of paper protect the ones who signed it? Maybe, like the original signatories, protection of your liberty requires something more kinetic.

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