Supreme Court declines to take up pandemic restrictions on worship services

The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider how far states can go without violating religious freedom when they impose restrictions on attendance 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 been battling pandemic restrictions imposed by Gov. Steve Sisolak. The rules originally allowed casinos, restaurants and other businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity while limiting churches to no more than 50 people, regardless of a facility’s size.

The state has since imposed a 25 percent capacity limit on most public gathering places, including movie theaters, casinos, restaurants, bars and religious constitutions. It therefore is not engaged in religious discrimination, lawyers for the state told the Supreme Court.

But the church said the state still treats some places more favorably, such as retail businesses, professional offices and manufacturing plants, which are either allowed a higher capacity or face no limit other than a requirement for social distancing.

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