OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, a supposed conservative and constitutionalist, has seemingly forgotten his oath.
In a stunning decision on Friday the chief justice sided with liberals yet again in keeping Nevada’s churches, synagogues and mosques more limited than its casinos and movie theaters, CNN reported.
The decision brought scorn and consternations from the likes of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who called on Roberts to repent and retire.
Chief Justice Roberts was part of a 5 to 4 decision against the request, brought by Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, to protect houses of worship from draconian restrictions.
The decision by Chief Justice Roberts and the liberals will keep in place a limit of 50 worshippers in churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship due to the pandemic.
Although the court’s order was unsigned, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch dissented, meaning that Chief Justice John Roberts provided the necessary fifth vote by joining the liberals on the bench.
The order marks the second time Roberts has voted to reject a request from a church amid the pandemic.
In May, he sided with the liberals in a 5-4 order against a church in California that was challenging limitations on the number of people who could attend services.
The Nevada decision highlighted Roberts’ recurring pivotal role on the bench this term. He sided with the court’s four liberal justices on high-profile cases on immigration, LGBTQ rights and abortion, while still handing the Trump administration’s long sought wins favoring religious employers and presidential authority — establishing himself as one of the most influential figures in America today.
“Temporarily narrowing restrictions on the size of mass gatherings, including for religious services, protects the health and well-being of Nevada citizens during a global pandemic,” the state of Nevada said in its argument to the court.
That view was signed off on by Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in saying the “Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. ”
“It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or black-jack, to feed tokens into a slot machine, or to engage in any other game of chance,” the Justice said.
“A public health emergency does not give Governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists,” he said.
But conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, an appointee of President Donald Trump, penned the most scathing dissent on his own.
“This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10- screen ‘multiplex’ may host 500 moviegoers at any time,” he said.
“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,” he said.
The decision by Roberts and the liberals was met with fury by conservatives.
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“Thanks @realDonaldTrump for appointing Gorsuch. Too bad Chief In-Justice John Roberts is so swamp-infected that he protects casinos & punishes places of worship. He needs to retire, but first he just needs to repent!” Gov. Huckabee said.
Thanks @realDonaldTrump for appointing Gorsuch. Too bad Chief In-Justice John Roberts is so swamp-infected that he protects casinos & punishes places of worship. He needs to retire, but first he just needs to repent! https://t.co/ZFjyvxTRn6
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 25, 2020
“John Roberts has abandoned his oath. But, on the upside, maybe Nevada churches should set up craps tables? Then they could open?” Sen. Ted Cruz said.
John Roberts has abandoned his oath.
But, on the upside, maybe Nevada churches should set up craps tables? Then they could open? https://t.co/6pWoOwg9ts
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 25, 2020
Chief Justice Roberts has abandoned, not only his oath, but any sense of morality and decency and if he has forgotten how to do his job than retirement should be his next decision.