Religious freedom wins as a Nevada church has been awarded $175K from the state after winning a legal battle over COVID19 lockdown.
Throughout the COVID19 pandemic, we watched as churches became a battleground over whether or not they would even be allowed to open their doors. This was done with complete disregard for the Constitution which doesn’t suddenly get suspended because there is a virus spreading around the country.
What makes this worse is the fact that many state governments were arbitrarily enforcing stronger restrictions on houses of worship than they were on businesses like casinos and similar establishments.
The Christian Post reports:
Nevada has agreed to pay a church $175,000 for legal fees incurred during its legal battle against the state’s worship restrictions enacted during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Nevada Board of Examiners unanimously approved a request on Tuesday morning from the Office of the Attorney General to pay a tort claim to Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley.
Susan Brown, chief of the Board, explained at the meeting that the $175,000 payment was “to comply with the consent decree in this case that requires the state of Nevada to pay a reasonable attorney fees,” adding that “this cost will come out of the tort claim fund.”
From there, no questions on the item were asked by those attending the board meeting in-person or virtually, with a motion to approve the tort claim coming without a nay vote.
Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley filed a lawsuit against Nevada in May 2020, accusing Gov. Steve Sisolak of treating churches worse than secular institutions in the state’s COVID-19 rules.
For example, while churches could only have 50 people in attendance regardless of the size of the building, secular businesses like casinos and gyms could operate at 50% capacity.
In June 2020, District Court Judge Richard Boulware II ruled against the Dayton church, claiming that the church had failed to prove that it was facing discrimination.
“It is difficult to establish a pattern of selective enforcement directed toward places of worship when new, more restrictive measures have been imposed against secular activities and no similar restrictions were imposed on religious activities,” wrote Boulware last year.
“Plaintiff’s requested relief would require the court to engage in potentially daily or weekly decisions about public health measures that have traditionally been left to state officials and state agencies with expertise in this area.”
Last July, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to reject a request by the church to block the restrictions, allowing the district court’s ruling against them to stand for the time being.
However, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with the church last December. Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote in the panel opinion that the church “has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its Free Exercise claim.”
What makes this victory even sweeter is that this same church, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley had filed a lawsuit back in the summer of 2020.
This lawsuit was struck down by the Supreme Court and the chapel was told they had to limit their capacity to only 50 people. At the same time casinos, restaurants, and other businesses were allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
AP reported in July of 2020:
A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court denied a rural Nevada church’s request late Friday to strike down as unconstitutional a 50-person cap on worship services as part of the state’s ongoing response to the coronavirus.
In a 5-4 decision, the high court refused to grant the request from the Christian church east of Reno to be subjected to the same COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada that allow casinos, restaurants and other businesses to operate at 50% of capacity with proper social distancing.
Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley argued that the hard cap on religious gatherings was an unconstitutional violation of its parishioners’ First Amendment rights to express and exercise their beliefs.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal majority in denying the request without explanation.
Three justices wrote strongly worded dissenting opinions on behalf of the four conservatives who said they would have granted the injunctive relief while the court fully considers the merits of the case.
“That Nevada would discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees may not come as a surprise, but this Court’s willingness to allow such discrimination is disappointing,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a dissent joined by Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
This is clearly a win for Constitutional loving Americans. Religious freedom is the cornerstone of our republic and why so many emigrated here during the founding of our great nation.
Do you agree with this decision to award the church $175K after being discriminated against during the COVID19 pandemic?
Let us know in the comments below!
h/t: We Love Trump