U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal majority in a late Friday ruling denying a Nevada church’s argument that a 50-person limit on the amount of worshippers allowed at services during the COVID pandemic is unconstitutional.
NBC News reports: “In a 5-4 decision, the high court refused to grant the request from the Christian church east of Reno to be subjected to the same COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada that allow casinos, restaurants and other businesses to operate at 50% of capacity with proper social distancing. Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley argued that the hard cap on religious gatherings was an unconstitutional violation of its parishioners’ First Amendment rights to express and exercise their beliefs. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal majority in denying the request without explanation.”
CNN adds: “Although the court’s order was unsigned, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch dissented, meaning that Chief Justice John Roberts provided the necessary fifth vote by joining the liberals on the bench.The order marks the second time Roberts has voted to reject a request from a church amid the pandemic.In May, he sided with the liberals in a 5-4 order against a church in California that was challenging limitations on the number of people who could attend services.The Nevada decision highlighted Roberts’ recurring pivotal role on the bench this term. He sided with the court’s four liberal justices on high-profile cases on immigration, LGBTQ rights and abortion, while still handing the Trump administration’s long sought wins favoring religious employers and presidential authority — establishing himself as one of the most influential figures in America today.”