Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, while claiming at a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 3 to be seeking legal ways to ease restrictions imposed by the CCP Virus, which currently limits the number allowed at church meetings to 50, some lawyers, advocates of religious associations, rejected his claims, arguing that it would not be a matter of investigation but rather of decision making and regulation.
According to Fox23 News, lawyers for Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley (a well-known association of evangelical churches) filed new briefs Wednesday with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. They had already filed an emergency order with the U.S. Supreme Court in July requesting a suspension of the limit. It was narrowly rejected, 5-4, and now with new arguments they are making a new attempt.
Sisolak, who openly declared himself a practicing Catholic, said he had asked his advisers to review how the state could ease restrictions on places of worship, and allow churches to expand the number of people who can attend.
“We’ve been researching different approaches in terms of how to do that, and using best practices that have been developed in other states. Trust me, I want to get back to church. I want to go back to mass live instead of watching it on my phone every weekend,” Sisolak said at a press conference in Las Vegas.
Calvary Chapel’s lawyers filed their appeal in an effort to show that under the rules restricting the number of participants in the ceremonies, the religious freedoms of believers are being violated. In part, their argument involves comparing the activity of churches with, for example, casinos, which are allowed to operate at up to 50% of their capacity.
Other secular businesses that can operate at half capacity include restaurants, gyms, hairdressers, and water parks, while churches have a maximum of 50 people allowed.
David Cortman, senior attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization with a mission to defend religious freedom, rejected Sisolak’s latest comments in a dialogue withthe Associated Press, “There’s really nothing to investigate. Other states are asking parishioners to wear masks and to distance themselves socially in their worship spaces, just as the governor asks those who go to casinos and amusement parks.”
Using the same reasoning as David Cortman, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley lawyers in their presentation to the court of appeals asked, “A casino entertaining 1,000 gamblers has no impact on public health while Calvary Chapel increasing its service size from 50 people to 90 would cripple the state’s health effort?”
“This is not just a 14-day or 30-day temporary, emergency measure,” the lawyers said. “Restricting religious gatherings for more than five months, with no end in sight, is not a rapidly changing, temporary measure that deserves substantial deference. It is government overreach in clear violation of constitutional principles.”
All that remains now is to wait for the court’s verdict. Meanwhile in Nevada, hospitalizations caused by the CCP Virus have continued to fall and the daily positivity rate has dropped to 9.1%, according to data from the Southern Nevada Health District published last Friday, as reported by Fox News.