News & Politics

Justice Gorsuch's Dissent in the Nevada Church Supreme Court Case Is Short, but Epic

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

On Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts inexplicably sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, denying Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley’s request to strike down Nevada’s blatantly unconstitutional 50-person cap on worship services.

While churches in Nevada have a 50-person cap, casinos, restaurants, and other types of businesses in the state are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity as long they incorporate social distancing measures.

The 5-4 denial of their request was made without explanation from the majority, but with dissents by Justices Alito (joined by Justice Thomas), Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch. Opinions, including dissents, are often lengthy missives that are highly annotated, referencing various precedents and sources, but Justice Gorsuch’s dissent is noteworthy specifically for it’s short, concise explanation, which perfectly encapsulates the self-evident unconstitutionality of the 50-person cap that only worship services are subjected to.

“This is a simple case,” the dissent begins. “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. 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.”

While it is expected that the liberal wing would be anti-religion and come out in favor of the absurd cap mandated by Governor Sisolak (the same governor, by the way, who made a big stink about hydroxychloroquine just because Trump had touted it), it is beyond comprehension that Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the liberal wing of the court on this case, and yet none of the majority made any attempt to justify their ruling.


Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis