The U.S. Supreme Court decreased Monday to think about how far states can go without violating religious freedom when they enforce constraints on presence at worship services to slow the spread of Covid-19
In a one-line order, the court said it would not hear an appeal from Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church in western Nevada that has actually been battling pandemic constraints enforced by Gov. Steve Sisolak. The rules initially enabled casinos, restaurants and other organizations to operate at 50 percent capacity while restricting churches to no more than 50 people, no matter a facility’s size.
The state has since imposed a 25 percent capacity limit on many public meeting place, including movie theaters, gambling establishments, restaurants, bars and spiritual constitutions. It therefore is not engaged in spiritual discrimination, legal representatives for the state informed the Supreme Court.
But the church stated the state still deals with some locations more favorably, such as retail companies, professional workplaces and making plants, which are either allowed a higher capability or face no limit aside from a requirement for social distancing.
Since the pandemic began, the Supreme Court has actually moved ground on deferring to state limitations intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. During the spring and summertime, the court rejected efforts to raise limitations on church attendance in California, Nevada and Illinois.
But the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative who succeeded liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, led to a change in direction. In October the court blocked an order from New york city Gov. Andrew Cuomo limiting presence to 10 people in areas where the illness was rapidly spreading. Those guidelines “single out houses of worship for specifically extreme treatment,” the choice stated.
The court then purchased lower courts to reassess their rulings supporting capability limitations in California, Colorado and New Jersey.
And in early January, the court enabled the Trump administration to implement a guideline needing ladies to appear in person at centers to receive two tablets for a medication abortion. A lower court had put the rule on hold pointing out health dangers triggered by the pandemic.
Pete Williams is an NBC News reporter who covers the Justice Department and the Supreme Court, based in Washington.