CNA Staff, Dec 16, 2020 / 18:01 pm America/Denver (CNA).
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday ruled preliminarily that Nevada may not limit attendance at indoor religious services differently than it limits businesses or other gatherings.
“The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 15 in Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak.
This limits “numerous secular activities and entities significantly better than religious worship services,” the court added.
Under current Nevada restrictions, casinos, restaurants, and bars are limited to 25% of their capacity. However, houses of worship may admit no more than 50 persons, even if this is less than 25% of its capacity.
“This is a significant win. There is no constitutional right to gamble, but there is one that protects attending worship services. The government has a duty to respect the First Amendment, so it can’t single out churches for harsher treatment than secular activities,” David Cortman, a counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, commented.