In a 5-4 decision that might just destroy one’s nihilistic belief in the integrity of government, Chief Justice John Roberts July 24 joined the leftist carousel in its endless parade against the Bill of Rights. This time, as they did in the May case of “South Bay United Pentecostal Church, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al” Roberts, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer voted against our rights to worship, to freely assemble, to be secure in our property against unwarranted searches and seizures, to due process, against cruel and unusual punishment, against the taking of property without just compensation, and many other fundamental rights, while Alto, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Thomas voted in favor of them – kind of.
The case, called, “Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak”, was brought to the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) upon appeal after the plaintiffs’ argument was rejected by the Ninth Circuit Federal Court, and it focused on the unequal COVID19 “occupancy” standards forced by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) on the rural Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley Church – and on all houses of worship in the desert state.
The plaintiffs argued, and the SCOTUS dissenters agreed, that Sisolak was unequally applying his “Executive Order” by telling churches they could only allow up to 50 individuals into any size house of worship, while casinos, movie theatres, and live venues could admit up to 50 percent capacity.
In a blistering 24-page document, Alito, Thomas, and Kavanaugh offered dissenting opinions, some of which shone a brilliant light on the absolute inequality of Sisolak’s edict, that would be an inequality which is forbidden by the contemporary reading of the 14th Amendment in addition to being an infringement of the First Amendment. Wrote Gorsuch:
This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10- screen “multiplex” may host 500 moviegoers at any time. A casino, too, may cater to hundreds at once, with perhaps six people huddled at each craps table here and a similar number gathered around every roulette wheel there. Large numbers and close quarters are fine in such places. But churches, synagogues, and mosques are banned from admitting more than 50 worshippers—no matter how large the building, how distant the individuals, how many wear face-masks, no matter the precautions at all. In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion.
John Roberts has abandoned his oath.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 25, 2020
But, on the upside, maybe Nevada churches should set up craps tables? Then they could open? https://t.co/6pWoOwg9ts
Well said, but Gorsuch offered additional wisdom:
Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.
Evidently, Roberts and the SOCTUS majority disagreed. They gave the okay to Sisolak and his government gang, who seem to think it’s no problem to shut down worship and free association, to arbitrarily act like brownshirts and order people around. After all, as FoxNews’ Caitlin McFall notes about the Nevada government’s argument:
They said places of worship can permit as many followers as they like for outdoor services.
You know, outdoor services – IN THE DESERTS AND MOUNTAINS OF NEVADA.
Perhaps it’s over-simplifying things, but this kind of fatuous expression from the Sisolak Administration almost makes one think they have nothing but utter contempt for the people and their inherent rights. Moreover, the discomfort or danger of a potential “option” offered by the state is irrelevant when it comes to rights. The state making any decision to shut down a natural right is wrong, and it doesn’t matter if they say they are “giving you an option”. Such an “option” is forced, a non-option, akin to the TSA claiming that you’re “opting” to be groped if you don’t want your rights infringed by the radiation scanner. Both “options” are forced on you, so they are not options at all.
Lesson to the unwary: never mistake political compulsion and threats of arrest and fines as “choices”. That’s a form of Stockholm Syndrome, of blind self-defilement.
Sadly, as much as one might applaud the dissenters for trying to slap down the Nevada wrong, not every aspect of all the dissents were meritorious. For example, as McFall reports, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote:
In my view, Nevada’s discrimination against religious services violates the Constitution.
Which is right. But he added this:
To be clear, a State’s closing or reopening plan may subject religious organizations to the same limits as secular organizations. And in light of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, those limits may be very strict.
But Kavanaugh has it wrong from the outset. The very concept of “those limits” is baseless, found nowhere in the US Constitution, nor in the Nevada Constitution. In fact, Section Four of the Nevada Constitution strictly states that the free exercise of religion “shall forever be allowed” in the state.
Perhaps Governor Sisolak was too busy fixing his precious face-mask to read the document.
Regardless, the majority in the SCOTUS agreed with Sisolak, and he and his lawyers got away with it, even arguing that they should be given a pass because of that May “South Bay United Pentecostal Church el al v. Gavin Newsom” case in which Roberts joined the leftists to okay California Governor Gavin Newsom’s obnoxious restrictions on churches.
But Justice Samuel Alito offered some sharp words to help Sisolak and the majority wake up, writing:
In South Bay, a church relied on the fact that the California law treated churches less favorably than certain other facilities, such as factories, offices, supermarkets, restaurants, and retail stores. But the law was defended on the ground that in these facilities, unlike in houses of worship, ‘people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.’ …That cannot be said about the facilities favored in Nevada. In casinos and other facilities granted preferential treatment under the directive, people congregate in large groups and remain in close proximity for extended periods.
But, as we have seen with politicians and pop news parrots excoriating Americans for trying to open their small businesses or go to church, but praising or joining leftists clustering closely for protests and for “peaceful” riots – whatever those are – it seems that this overblown pandemic passes over gatherings favored by the left. It’s a politically selective pathogen.
As are many politicians and Supreme Court Justices.