U.S. Supreme Court won't hear Nevada church's COVID-19 case

Posted 35 days ago


RENO — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused a rural Nevada church’s request to enter a legal battle over the government’s authority to limit the size of religious gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic — after the church won an appeals court ruling last month that found Nevada’s restrictions unconstitutional.

Attorneys general from 19 other states had recently joined in support of the unusual request from Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley east of Reno.

They were urging the Supreme Court to rule on the merits of the Nevada case to help bring uniformity to various standards courts across the country have used to balance the interests of public safety and freedom of religion.

The church’s lawyers said in a court filing last Thursday they wanted the high court to “clarify for all that the First Amendment does not allow government officials to use COVID-19 as an excuse to treat churches and their worshippers worse than secular establishments and their patrons.”

In a 5-4 decision in June, the Supreme Court refused Calvary Chapel’s request for an emergency injunction blocking enforcement of Nevada’s attendance limit at houses of worship.

But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of the church last month, finding it was unconstitutional for Nevada to treat casinos and other businesses more favorably than churches.

The church's latest plea for relief from the Supreme Court was in the form of a petition for a review of the case on its merits. Such petitions are rare and their approval is even rarer, even though they require approval by only four justices.

The justices denied the request without explanation on Monday.... (Read more)