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Nevada’s COVID Rules That Prefer Casinos to Churches Struck Down by 9th Circuit

'Just like the New York restrictions, the Directive treats numerous secular activities and entities significantly better than religious worship services...'

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled against Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s unconstitutional limits on the size of religious gatherings, Liberty Counsel reported.

“The dominoes continue to fall following the Supreme Court’s decision that these COVID restrictions violate the First Amendment,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said. “It is past time. The governors need to remove these unconstitutional restrictions on houses of worship.”

The 9th Circuit referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo in its 3-0 decision in Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak.

“The Supreme Court’s recent decision . . . arguably represented a seismic shift in Free Exercise law, and compels the result in this case,” the panel wrote in its unanimous decision.

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Sisolak’s regulations granted more freedom to casinos and other businesses than churches.

Casinos, recreational businesses, gyms, bars, restaurants, and all other business were allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity without any numerical attendance limits.

Churches, however, could open their doors only to “the lesser of 25 percent of the listed fire code capacity or 50 persons.”

This meant that casinos could have hundreds or thousands of patrons while churches could never exceed 50 worshippers.

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“The Supreme Court’s decision in Roman Catholic Diocese compels us to reverse the district court,” the appeals court wrote.

“Just like the New York restrictions, the Directive treats numerous secular activities and entities significantly better than religious worship services,” it said.

The Nevada decision follows a series of pro-First Amendment rulings throughout the country, Liberty Counsel reported.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis dropped unconstitutional limits on religious gatherings, which he imposed under the guise of stemming the coronavirus.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious freedom in High Plains Harvest Church v. Polis, telling a district court to review its decision in light of the Roman Catholic Diocese decision.

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