Linda Greenhouse Thinks COVID-19 Rules That Favor Casinos Over Churches Raise No Constitutional Issues Worth Considering

The former New York Times SCOTUS reporter does not seem to understand the arguments she is criticizing.


Linda Greenhouse, who covered the Supreme Court for The New York Times from 1978 to 2008, was "startled" by the sympathy that four justices recently expressed for a Nevada church's challenge to the state's 50-person cap on religious services. In an op-ed piece published today, Greenhouse argues that the justices' dissent from last Friday's decision against granting Calvary Chapel in Dayton an injunction pending appeal irrationally elevates religious concerns above public health. She says the dissenting justices—Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh—"appear oblivious to the facts on the ground, particularly the well-documented role of religious services in spreading the virus."

To the contrary, it is Greenhouse who seems oblivious to the facts—in particular, Nevada's arbitrary distinction between houses of worship and businesses that pose similar or greater risks of COVID-19 transmission. Those favored businesses include bars, restaurants, gyms, arcades, bowling alleys, and, most conspicuously, casinos, where thousands of people from around the country have been gathering to try their luck since Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak allowed the gambling palaces to reopen on June 4. All of those businesses are permitted to operate at 50 percent of capacity, while churches, synagogues, and mosques may admit no more than 50 people at a time, regardless of their capacity. A church with seating for 500 people, for example, may not exceed one-tenth of its capacity.

That sort of discrimination is hard to reconcile with the standards that the Court has applied to laws that restrict religious activities. When those laws are neutral and generally applicable, the Court said in the 1990 case Employment Division v. Smith, they are consistent with the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. But when those laws impose special burdens on religious organizations that do not apply to similarly situated secular organizations, the Court said three years later in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, they must satisfy strict scrutiny, meaning the government has to show the restrictions are narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest. That test is hard to pass, and the arguments mustered by Nevada in this case do not come close.

Calvary Chapel wanted to hold 45-minute services for up to 90 people, half of its capacity. Under its plan, congregants would follow designated one-way paths in and out of the church, observe physical distancing rules, sit in family groups spaced at least six feet apart, wear masks during services, and pass no items to each other. Sufficient time would be allowed to sanitize the church between services. These precautions, according to an infectious disease specialist consulted by the church, are "equal to or more extensive than those recommended by" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compare that prohibited plan with the situation in restaurants, where people frequently sit for longer than 45 minutes and do not wear masks while they are eating; in bowling alleys, where groups of up to 50 tournament spectators are allowed to sit together as long as they stay six feet away from other groups; or in casinos, where people drink and gamble in close proximity at blackjack and craps tables, often eschewing the masks that are notionally required. The state lets all those indoor businesses serve up to half as many customers as were allowed before the pandemic, which in casinos means thousands of patrons at any given time, gamblers who often will visit several casinos during their visits.

If there is a logical public health rationale for this distinction, Nevada was unable to locate it. Greenhouse cites "the well-documented role of religious services in spreading the virus," linking to a New York Times story that originally carried a headline claiming churches "Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases." But the information in the article, suggesting that "churches and religious events across the United States" account for something like 0.02 percent of COVID-19 infections, did not support that claim. Evidently that became apparent to the newspaper's editors, who revised the headline without explanation two days after the article appeared.

"The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion," Alito notes in his dissent from the decision to deny the injunction sought by Calvary Chapel, which was joined by Thomas and Kavanaugh. "It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine, or to engage in any other game of chance. But the Governor of Nevada apparently has different priorities. Claiming virtually unbounded power to restrict constitutional rights during the COVID–19 pandemic, he has issued a directive that severely limits attendance at religious services….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. We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility."

Alito suggests that Sisolak's policy also runs afoul of the First Amendment by discriminating against speech based on viewpoint. "When large numbers of protesters [against police brutality] openly violated provisions of the Directive, such as the rule against groups of more than 50 people," he notes, "the Governor not only declined to enforce the directive but publicly supported and participated in a protest." Such discrimination also figured prominently in a federal judge's June 26 decision against New York's restrictions on religious services.

Greenhouse, who is currently the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale, does not simply disagree with Alito's argument. She does not seem to understand his point. "'Religion counts as a viewpoint,' he wrote, a sentence I found baffling," she says. "Isn't belief in public health a viewpoint?"

Greenhouse notes that Nevada's 50-person limit applies not only to churches but also to lecture spaces, museums, trade schools, and movie theaters (which are allowed to admit 50 customers per screen). But Kavanaugh, in a separate dissent, says Nevada is not off the hook simply because some venues have to comply with the same occupancy rule that applies to churches:

In these kinds of cases, the Court's religion precedents require a basic two-step inquiry. First, does the law create a favored or exempt class of organizations and, if so, do religious organizations fall outside of that class? That threshold question does not require judges to decide whether a church is more akin to a factory or more like a museum, for example. Rather, the only question at the start is whether a given law on its face favors certain organizations and, if so, whether religious organizations are part of that favored group. If the religious organizations are not, the second question is whether the government has provided a sufficient justification for the differential treatment and disfavoring of religion.

Gorsuch, in his own one-paragraph dissent, makes short work of Nevada's claim that the First Amendment allows it to disfavor houses of worship in this way:

This is a simple case. Under the Governor's edict, a 10-screen "multiplex" may host 500 moviegoers at any time. 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.

Greenhouse still doesn't get it. "I've been fascinated that some liberal commentators found the dissenting opinions persuasive and the case a close one," she writes.

Greenhouse links to a Vox piece in which Ian Millhiser says Calvary Chapel "presented a much stronger legal argument" than South Bay United Pentecostal Church did in its challenge to California's restrictions on religious services last May. In that case, the Court likewise declined to issue an injunction pending appeal, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote an opinion emphasizing that states have broad discretion in dealing with communicable diseases. The same four justices dissented.

Millhiser, who was not impressed by the argument against California's rules, argues that churches in that state "were treated more favorably than similarly situated businesses, as they were allowed to reopen sooner than other places where groups of people gather in auditorium-like settings." By contrast, he says, "there's a plausible argument that Nevada does single out places of worship for inferior treatment that's not imposed on many comparable secular spaces."

Greenhouse won't even allow that much, and her reasoning is telling. "I understand the impulse not to appear unduly antagonistic toward religion," she says, "but I think that generosity toward the religious claim here loses sight of the broader context in which the dissenting justices were writing."

By that Greenhouse means "the persistence of the Supreme Court's conservative justices in seeking to elevate religious interests over those of secular society." As evidence of that persistence, Greenhouse cites recent decisions in which the Court upheld a religious exemption from Obamacare's contraceptive coverage mandate and ruled that the "ministerial exception" to employment discrimination claims extends to teachers hired by churches.

When you understand that Alito et al.'s receptiveness to Calvary Chapel's claims reflects a broader concern about religious freedom, Greenhouse seems to be saying, you should be wary about granting those claims any weight, no matter their legal merits. If she is trying "not to appear unduly antagonistic toward religion," she is not doing a very good job.

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  1. Perfect example of the bubble lefties live in. And why no one outside blue state cities wants lefties in charge.

    1. The half-educated bigots from the south, the superstitious slack-jaws from the midwest, the disaffected clingers from the mountain states don’t want the liberal-libertarian mainstream to continue to shape American progress?

      Who cares what the anti-social, gullible, ignorant minority wants?

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      2. “Who cares what the anti-social, gullible, ignorant minority wants?”

        The Constitution?

      3. “Who cares what the anti-social, gullible, ignorant minority wants?”

        Are you referring to yourself here?

  2. The only time anyone gives a fuck about the constitution is when it favors their argument, when it doesn’t it should be disregarded.

    1. “The only time anyone gives a fuck about the constitution is when it favors their argument…”

      Certainly NOT universally true. But yeah, all too common.

  3. No one is that naive, especially someone who reported on the Supreme Court for 30 years. Crocodile phears, I calls it.

    1. I dunno.

      Did Greenhouse ever, in those three decades of reporting, write a single line that indicated she’d ever actually entertained the proposition that the Supreme Court was not a super-legislature that should enact her personal prejudices as law?

      1. Doesn’t matter. 30 years in contact with the enemy, she knows a lot more than she’s willing to admit. Probably afraid that even the slightest hint of understanding liberty would cancel her.

      2. Yes, but has she ever taken a CCW Class?

  4. Churches should host covid parties for young and healthy people. It will provide a sanctuary for a few days so they can get immunity and then be god-like superheroes. And yes I said this months ago.

  5. “If there is a logical public health rationale for this distinction, Nevada was unable to locate it”

    It is located in the state budget. Follow the money.
    What is the tax rate on church admissions?
    How much of the ‘take’ does the state get from a casino vs. a church?
    Well, there you are.

    1. That’s actually a rationale that has grown pretty popular on Twitter.

      Its ironic, because I’ve previously only heard the “you don’t pay taxes therefore you should have no (or diminished) rights” argument from the far right

    2. Longtobefree gets it!!!! Yay for Longtobefree!!!!

    3. Yeah this one is pretty obvious.

  6. I still don’t see why churches don’t host ‘protests’ on Sunday mornings.

    1. It only works if your protest is supported by the state.

      1. So protest something supported by the state. I can protest anything, can’t you? Unfair to zucchini!

        1. 3/10

  7. Just shut down the street outside your church and call it a protest.

    1. Or hold your service in front of the nearest Federal building.

  8. A: Stupid authoritarian crap like this being done constantly by those on the other side.

    Q: Why could anyone be tempted to vote for someone like Trump.

  9. How stupid/bubble-headed is Linda Greenhouse that she doesn’t realize that Freedom of Religion has a special carve-out within the Constitution just like Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press and unlike the Freedom to Watch a Ballgame or Freedom to Eat at IHOP and that there are a lot of people who take that shit seriously? Sure, I’m sure she doesn’t personally know anybody that takes religion seriously and I’m sure she thinks the sorts of people who do take religion seriously are just those old bitter-clingers in fly-over country in their white sheets and MAGA hats, but you’d think she would have at least once in her life seen an Orthodox Jew and realized that’s not just some hipster in the latest old-fashioned get-up.

    1. Because these people don’t believe in freedom of expression – yes, even ‘reporters’ don’t believe in it.

      Freedom of the press threatens the jobs of ‘real’ press – all those guys in their pajamas (they don’t even have editors!) expose how little value the writing in between the ads in a newspaper really has.

      1. ‘I went to the Columbia School of Journalism!’

        ‘And I didn’t. And I make more money off my blog than you do as a journalist.’

    2. “old bitter-clingers in fly-over country in their white sheets and MAGA hats”
      Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to find a MAGA hat that fits over your full body white mask? It’s almost like the stores are just keeping them hidden and refuse to serve me at all

  10. congregants would follow designated one-way paths

    I don’t get this. When you do this you ensure everyone ends up bunching up and moving together. If you kept things normal you’d have half the people going one way and half the other – so they’d only have momentary contact.

    1. don’t get me started on the one-way fad in every grocery store.

      1. Ok, I’m like a journalist responding to a Donald Trump tweet, I can’t help myself.

        The one-way schtick in grocery stores is literally counter productive. I have to do more orbiting to get to the items I want, putting me in more contact with people when I could just pop up the aisle and go back the way I came. But forcing me into singular pathways in alternating aisles makes me travel further, and cross people stopped in the aisle I don’t even want to be in, just to get to the item I do want, and I still have to pass by people stopped in that aisle if the item is past those people stopped. Stupid on wheels.

        1. That’s a feature to the grocery stores, not a bug. The more you wonder around, the better the chance that you will buy something that you weren’t planning to buy. Why do you think that the milk and eggs are always at the back of the store.

        2. Yes. I hate the grocery store now more than ever. I hate it more than even the post office and so we have been eating out too much. It’s bad

          1. And there is a fat Karen in every aisle just standing there in the middle and waiting in order to gasp at you and scold you if you try to move past her

        3. In workers paradise, you shop the way you’re directed to shop through central planning

          1. Good heavens. You keep bitching about how horribly authoritarian masks are, even the completely voluntary requests to wear one. You know what? You are subject to about a thousand little rules and conventions and customs and traditions when doing anything in public. Are all of these instances of authoritarian central planning? For example it’s not considered polite to continually yell and shout in a place like a grocery store. Is this an authoritarian convention being forced upon you by a ‘workers paradise’? Or is it just an example of good manners and respect for others? Is it some horrible infringement of liberty that most stores require customers to wear shoes?

            If you don’t want to wear a mask, fine, don’t wear one. But stop trying to turn even polite voluntary requests to wear a mask into some sort of tyrannical monstrosity. Because it isn’t and it only makes you look more like the paranoid nutjob that you already are.

            1. You are subject to about a thousand little rules and conventions and customs and traditions when doing anything in public. Are all of these instances of authoritarian central planning?

              No, they aren’t. But masks are. Do you see the difference now? How we might tolerate rules and customs that have built up over generations but might oppose mandates imposed from on high at the same time?

  11. *Analyzing Journalist DNA Sequence*


    *sound of daisywheel printer clacking*


    *white lab coat typing on keyboard*



    *sound of daisywheel printer clacking*


  12. the persistence of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices in seeking to elevate religious interests over those of secular society.

    How can she not understand that religious interests *are* secular interests.

    The freedom to go to church is synonymous with the freedom to go somewhere else at the same time of day. Freedom *of* religion is freedom *from* religion.

    1. To the secular society, a church and a casino are the same thing. To treat one differently – whether that’s granting privileges to the church or the casino – is a violation of secular ethics.

      1. Going to snake-handling under a revival tent sure looks a lot like a BLM protest.

      2. She wrote for the most well known high school newspaper in the country, not really surprising her understanding of logic is junior high level.

    2. for the same reason that the Left doesn’t realize that economic rights are also human rights.

    3. The quote you point to is the smoking gun for the thesis “doesn’t understand the opinion she is commenting on”.

      The churches are beneath the casinos in the current rules. They are asking to be the same as, not elevated above.

      Finally, the constitution specifically mentions freedom of religion, so there is actually a reason that the freedoms of a church might in fact be elevated above the freedom of something like a strip club or casino. After all, it doesn’t say “shall make no law” respecting the establishment of a game of blackjack.

      1. The latter doesn’t hold water for me. I do not have just the rights enumerated and the ones that are enumerated are not any more important then the infinity-bajillion that aren’t.

  13. ‘”I understand the impulse not to appear unduly antagonistic toward religion,”‘
    The government cannot be ANTAGONISTIC toward religion at all.

    ‘By that Greenhouse means “the persistence of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices in seeking to elevate religious interests over those of secular society.” As evidence of that persistence, Greenhouse cites recent decisions in which the Court upheld a religious exemption from Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage mandate and ruled that the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination claims extends to teachers hired by churches.’
    Interesting that the opinion in the employment discrimination case was joined by Kagan and Breyer…

    In other words, Linda Greenhouse is a lying hack.

  14. How can she get to the idea that treating a house of worship minimally with the same standards as entertainment venues is special treatment for religion? Merely because she bought into a scientifically unsupported narrative put out by the NYT that said people gathering for church services were moral likely to spread the disease, apparently. Covid prefers to feed on religious people in her mind, somehow.

    It fits with the topsy turvy secularist notion that the Establishment Clause was to protect the government from religion rather than the other way around.

    1. I wonder how she feels about the “special rights” we gave to same sex couples so they could get married

  15. Why don’t they just have gambling in the church? Has that ever come up before?

    1. lol something something tables of the money changers

        1. in Texas there are Bingo halls I didn’t equate it w/church

          1. Lot’s of places the local church is the bingo hall.

  16. >>elevates religious concerns above public health

    faith v. nonsense

  17. Yeah this is just wrong. Freedom of association is still freedom of association, whether it’s in a casino or in a church.

    1. South Korea’s first coronavirus case was the same day as the US’s.

      US deaths: 150,000
      South Korea deaths: 300

      If liberties cannot be temporarily tightened to deal with a national pandemic emergency, thus requiring us to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives for that reason alone, then we don’t have a good set of priorities.

      1. S korea’s outbreak was largely credited to a single church that refused to take precautions, too.

        1. .000000000003/10

      2. Now do Sweden.

        If liberties cannot be temporarily tightened to deal with a national pandemic emergency, thus requiring us to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives for that reason alone, then we don’t have a good set of priorities.

        1. Its so cute that you think ‘temporary’.

        2. Its one thing when a government that has the support of the people (because they seem to know what they’re doing) ‘temporarily tightens’ liberties, its another when a government without the support of the people does so.

        3. Cue ‘guy sweating over which button to push’ meme – TRUMP IS LITERALLY HITLER or TRUMP NEEDS MORE POWER TO ‘TIGHTEN LIBERTIES’ TO PROTECT US.

        You guys really do consider 1984 to be an instruction manual.

      3. If that’s a good set of priorities, we need to outlaw good sets of priorities.

        1. Protecting human life trumps your freedom, if they conflict. Dead people have no freedom.

          1. Then you shouldn’t have the freedom to drive faster than 10 miles per hour.

          2. The only logical conclusion to that is that in order to stop people from even possibly inflicting harm to anyone or anything all humans must die. Let’s start with Tony.

            1. No it isn’t. Grownups can handle the concept of risk and reward, of balancing liberty and safety. Every law or regulation must do this.

      4. Temporary, eh?

  18. Actually she understands it very well. It is ideology and religious zealotry over the law and the Constitution.

    Think of this. If Louisiana passes a law that mandates doctors performing abortions must have hospital privligedes, then even though that is pretext for shutting down abortion clinics the Supreme Court must defer to the state in terms of judging what is medically necessary. The Court is not equipped to make that judgment according to its conservatives.

    But if another state makes the judgment that church services spread a disease and have greater risk then other organizations and businesses, then the Court is equipped to make a medical judgment and overrule the state health authorities and the state’s right to protect its citizens, according to its conservatives.

    See how simple it is, the conservatives simply pivot to rule the way they want the law to go, not the way the law is and consistency bed damned.

    1. >>according to its conservatives

      Thomas last man standing.

  19. “All of those businesses are permitted to operate at 50 percent of capacity, while churches, synagogues, and mosques may admit no more than 50 people at a time”

    The humanity! But I don’t get why they didn’t just use the same 50% capacity standard. Who decided the 50 person thing? That could be alot of people in a small church or not so many in a large one. Nevada rule seems irrational and was asking for trouble.

    1. They used the 50 person rule because that was a CDC thing.

      Then they excluded their favorite businesses. Because money.

  20. If you ignore all the paragraphs about Greenhouse, the article is otherwise interesting.

    Greenhouse is a lefty hack. She does serve as a foil to highlight the difference between prohibitions on supporting religion versus prohibitions on suppressing religion.

    This case gives a very different outcome (obviously) if you say that if there is a favored class of organization, churches must be included, than if you say that churches must be excluded.

    Lefties are afraid of the government being too nice to religion. I guess they are afraid government will force them to join. Which obviously displays an ignorance of how much variety this is in religion.

    Churchies are afraid that government will suppress their particular flavor of church. This seems like the more historically relevant concern, and the one that is most broadly applicable. If all sects are free of oppression, then none of them are in a position to impose control.

    But if all sects are equally subject to oppression, that leads to a number of bad outcomes, even for lefties.

    1. The Left thinks they can mitigate any bad outcomes to themselves from removing Constitutional safeguards as long as their people are running things. That is part of the reason they become unhinged when they lose elections.

      1. “s long as their people are running things.”

        Initially read that as “ruining things“. I wonder why?

      2. The Left has no interest in Constitutional safeguards. It sees them as obstacles.

        The Left used to be concerned about some parts of the Bill of Rights, but seems to have abandoned that entirely. Sort of like conservatives abandoned the concept of fiscal responsibility.

      3. They cut down all the trees and wonder why there’s no place to hide when the Devil turns on them.

    2. “Lefties are afraid of the government being too nice to religion. I guess they are afraid government will force them to join. Which obviously displays an ignorance of how much variety this is in religion.”

      That’s called projection.
      As soon as they can get away with it, they will force you to join.

      1. Yes, hence suing the Little Sisters of the Poor and civil rights commissions fining Christian bakers for not conforming to their morality.

    3. Lefties are afraid of the government being too nice to religion.
      Lefties don’t want all those other religions to compete with their religion.

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  22. Churches should go ahead and follow the same rule as casinos.
    Let the stormtroopers come in and bust up the services, perp walk the clergy, tear gas the choir. That should play really well on tv.
    Non-violent disobedience worked for King and Lewis didn’t it?

    1. Are you kidding? Joe Lewis wasn’t non violent! 52 of his 66 wins were by KO!

      1. That was peaceful boxing!

        1. The peaceful boxing intensified.

  23. I feel for the Christians, they have allowed themselves to become door mats. I guarantee if they tried this crap at mosque there would be rioting all over the world. Until they learn to be just as dirty this will always be the outcome. The pope quotes a middle ages document about Islam and the Middle East is on fire, some guy puts an image of Christ in a bucket of piss and you get some stern articles. I promise you he wouldn’t try piss Koran. Just have service as normal, what are they going to do…arrest everyone in the church? Fill the jail with little old ladies? I don’t see that happening and if it did the push back would be more than some dissenting Justices.

    1. It’s almost like they have some principles or something. Maybe some kind of dogma.

      [38] Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
      [39] But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
      [40] And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
      [41] And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
      [42] Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
      [43] Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
      [44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
      [45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
      [46] For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
      [47] And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
      [48] Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

      I’m not even christian but if you have to disobey your creed in order to preserve it then what’s the point? You can’t be immoral in order to protect morals. You can’t save freedom via tyranny.

  24. Yes. I hate the grocery store now more than ever. I hate it more than even the post office and so we have been eating out too much. It’s bad

    1. Shoot this was supposed to be a reply

  25. That Greenhouse article made me feel unsafe. But I am resting assured that when Wesley Lowery hears about this terribly written article, he will surely denounce Greenhouse and, mostly, the editor. I know that because he super credibly explained on the Fifth Column podcast that James Bennet deserved to be fired for his crap editing.

  26. In old movies when the law busts the illegal gambling den someone pushes a button and all the tables are hidden away and replaced with pews. Nowadays it vicey versa.

  27. Interesting that in this environment where going to church or having a backyard birthday gathering is tantamount to murder, there is broad support for protests (but only for BLM/Antifa protests, not anti-lockdown protests)

    But this has been said many times. Nobody seems to care.

    I wonder if anyone noticed that the Democrats held a large political event today? Despite so many americans being forced to have funeral services for their loved ones online, with mourners doing “drive by” parades in lieu of normal gatherings, the democrats spent 2 weeks planning a huge funeral for John Lewis. a TV spectacular attended by politicians of both parties and covered by all networks.

    Now, I’m not begrudging the man his state funeral. He’s a legitimate political landmark deserving of notice at his passing.

    But these are the exact same people who excoriated Trump for having a political rally in Tulsa, and now they have a large political rally at a funeral…. no social distancing needed, I suppose.

    Let’s see if the New York times takes Bill Clinton to task for his participation in such an irresponsible gathering.

    1. Which anti-lockdown protest has been banned from taking place where a BLM protest would be permitted? I’ll wait.

      1. I know your only reason for existing is to troll for the left, but at least try to read the posts you are responding to before trolling, Ok? It makes for a closer approximation of an actual conversation. This stuff is like someone hooked up a chatbot from circa 2002 to a Reason account.

        1. What do I care if there’s more support for BLM than hysterical Trump assholes who want to get people killed through sheer stupidity? They don’t deserve the same leeway. They deserve to be forced back into their homes before another hundred thousand die at their dear leader’s hands. Dear leader deserves the be in supermax for the crimes against humanity he is perpetrating. Fuck them.

          The funeral at least had masks, though I couldn’t help but feel nervous the whole time given how many heavy hitters were all in the same room together. But you shouldn’t equate it to Trump rallies and Trumpist protests that are specifically about giving the middle finger to pandemic hygiene measures. Since we’re having an ethics pissing match.

          I’m sure we agree that the occasion of the Lewis funeral does not prove Trump or COVID deniers right about anything.

      2. Tony, why were you so adamant that gay marriage had to be legal?

        Gay men have always been allowed to marry a woman.

        1. And now I have the right to piss on the institution of marriage and set it on fire in front of my dear mother. It was shits and giggles the whole time!

  28. Reason invents a controversy to attack an NYT columnist. Religion is stupid. Gambling is stupid. Do you honestly want to argue that either of them justify stretching coronavirus limits?

    1. I think you just qualified for inclusion in the “does not understand the argument they are criticizing” bucket.

      Also, you gotta take the temperature of the room. Folks around these parts are not all that keen on any coronavirus limits, let alone limits that only affect some groups but not others. I think you might find more support for following the Swedish model than for subjective lockdowns based on bureaucratic whims. So such a blanket statement is probably gonna require a little more argument supporting it other than “it is stupid”.

      1. So when is Sweden going to start having fewer deaths than its neighbors?

        At some point you have to admit your ideas were wrong. You should be used to it by now. This is especially important when your ideas get thousands of people killed.

    2. Coronavirus limits are more stupid than gambling or religion.

  29. If the court granted relief, it would be the one offering special treatment to churches. Whatever decision the state legislature made about COVID rules, unless someone can prove that the legislature imposed special burdens on churches for no good reason, it gets to decide what it thinks is a prudent course of action.

    Roberts doesn’t think unelected judges should wedge themselves into a debate properly left to legislatures. To do so in the middle of a contentious national debate on these very issues would be even more unfortunate. We don’t need courts making pandemic rules.

    The other conservatives want to give religion special exemptions from the law in all kinds of ways, and have succeeded in doing so recently. Neither courts nor legislatures should be letting churches write our laws.

    1. Tony, the legislature imposed special burdens on everyone with regards to the COVID quarantine, but they were “less burdensome” for a few favored industries, like gaming. Why not apply the 50-person rule to casinos? Can’t the virus spread there just like at church?

      In my mind, the religion aspect is a bit of a red herring. It’s the double standard that is the real problem.

      1. It may be a problem, or the legislature may have rationally decided it was the best trade-off for the sake of the state economy, but isn’t it better if the people making these decisions are accountable to elections?

        1. Isn’t it best if the state has no power to interfere in peaceful, voluntary actions by consenting adults?

          1. “Isn’t it best if the state has no power to interfere in peaceful, voluntary actions by consenting adults?”


          2. Don’t espouse freedom from state interference, Toejam will end up in the corner playing with his yo yo and slapping his forehead until he concusses himself.

          3. No, that’s an incredibly terrible idea, and you could hardly pick a better example why then a goddamn pandemic.

            People’s lives still matter, folks. It’s not just federal courthouses.

        2. Oh I agree that ideally the elected branches of government should be the ones making the rules. The courts should be used only as a last resort. But they are there and they ought to be used when appropriate.

          Your comment made me think of a podcast I listened to a while ago about the effects of electing judges rather than appointing them. You might be interested in it.

        3. That boils down to saying, “Isn’t it better to let one portion if the state violate my rights today in the hope that the majority of people who are not in my group feel outraged and help me and mine get these thugs voted out of office later?” versus “Isn’t it better that the system of checks and balances actually be used to stop one section of the state from over reaching and violating my rights?”

          Elections are not the correct recourse for over reach. They are the correct solution to non-over reaching policies that the populus just doesn’t like. Violations of rights are of a whole different cloth and deserve much quicker, and more permanent, rectifications.

          1. Nobody’s rights were violated. You don’t have rights just because you declare them. Churches in Nevada already get some special exemptions in addition to all the other special rights they get under the constitution.

            I say treat them the same as any other business that’s selling snake oil. But nobody asked me, so how about they abide by public safety measures and shut the fuck up?

        4. 1. Again – the legislature could not bring any evidence to support this being the best trade-off to counter the plaintiff’s evidence that it wasn’t.

          2. No, its not better. Laws don’t go away just because you voted the lawmaker out of office. And you are, literally, arguing for the elimination of the judicial branch. You know, that branch that protects the things you think are important (like abortion) as much as they do the things I think are.

          1. The legislature doesn’t need to prove to the court that a policy is a good idea. Bad ideas are constitutional all the time.

            Courts should know when to interfere with the legislature’s wishes and when to let it go about its business or else they might start being seen as political and activist.

            1. If the legislature does not have the authority to pass a law, then the courts throw it out. The courts are not supposed to judge whether the policy the law creates is good or bad.

              1. That’s what I just said.

        5. The legislature does not have the authority to treat religious gatherings worse than others.

    2. I don’t think that is the test for granting an injunction.

      I think it comes down to

      The likelihood of success in the case
      The relative harm of granting relief vs leaving the status quo.

      In this case, the likelihood of success is highly political…. and the relative harm is highly subjective.

      So probably best not to grant injunctive relief.

      On the merits, the rules are obviously quite arbitrary and do discriminate against religious groups while favoring other groups, so who knows what the court will find. Roberts loves him some deference…. So I’ll bet on deference. Plus, nobody wants to be the one who says you have to treat a church like everyone else and then have some guy who dies of covid hung around their neck.

      Roberts also protects the court, so I’ll bet that he doesn’t want the court getting involved in the pandemic in any way at all if he can possibly avoid it.

      1. Your last point I agree with, which makes him a shitty judge. I mean… it is his fucking job to get all up in Congress’ business and ensure they are within their Constitutional limits. Deference to violating the Constitution is complicity in violating the Constitution.

        1. They get to decide what is constitutional. There is no other authority; there is just your hollow opinion shouted into the wind.

          And because they get to be the final arbiters, they should probably only get all up in the business of legislatures judiciously.

    3. <blockquote.unless someone can prove that the legislature imposed special burdens on churches for no good reason, it gets to decide what it thinks is a prudent course of action.

      1. Well, they did prove that. And the state had nothing to rebut with – hence the ruling.

      2. No, that’s not how it works in the United States. States are not all-powerful.

  30. Speaking of masks:
    Conservative snowflake trying to create a special victim group, the “Unmasked Community”

    1. Speaking of speaking of masks…

      Wisconsin gov. just issued a mandatory mask order for the entire state.

      Moments later one county sheriff posted that his office would not enforce such a ban, deeming it unconstitutional on many levels, having not been approved by any legislature.

      I was just in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. The problem the governor has is that most of the state is very rural. And most of the state has not seen any cases to speak of, even in the current surge.

      Other states with similarly diverse populations took a less “one size fits all” approach. From a political perspective, I think this is smarter. Milwaukee and Solon Springs have very little in common. I don’t think the rural part of the state is going to like this mandate very much. And the urban areas have been halfway doing all this stuff for 4 months now… those folks are probably tired of it and getting a bit complacent.

      He definitely would have done well to work with local authorities to customize the response by local needs.

      1. The Arizona governor imposed a statewide curfew – it was openly ignored by law enforcement.

        The difference, I think, is that the Arizona governor really intended this to be a tool local law enforcement could use if they felt the need – locally.

        The Wisconsin governor seems to think he actually runs the state.

        1. The Arizona curfew had so many carve-outs that it was toothless for just about anything other than protests. Going to work, going home from work, running a business, patronizing a business (!), obtaining food or medical or veterinary care…

          It doesn’t mean he’s not a douchebag for imposing it, or the relatively weak lockdown, or any other number of things. Same deal with Texas’ governor, who’s an even bigger douchebag.

      2. The only way this is ending is by a united national effort. I’m so terribly sorry that a natural disaster that ignores borders and spreads like, hm, a virus doesn’t fit into the realm of scenarios that confirm your political worldview. That kind of means your political worldview lost the debate, and you should be ok with that and move on, because at least you can know you’re no longer killing people because of a notion you picked up between bong sessions in college.

    2. .00000000000028/10

  31. I would think a solid argument against limiting church services to some arbitrary number to be the following:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…

    But hey, I’m no legal scholar, just a citizen whose government is to follow certain, simple rules…like the one above…

    1. Wouldn’t it be best for everyone if we got through this without having to repeal the First Amendment?

  32. I just came here to remind everyone that the NY Times hired openly anti-white racists and then chased away an establishment lefty for not being progressive enough in the course of like 20 months
    ANYONE who takes that paper seriously anymore deserves to be ridiculed
    ‘Should my kids be friends with white people?’
    that’s an actual article they published

    1. Progressives are just on a different, higher plane of political discourse than you are what with your current exploration of the ethical principle: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Trump totally pwns libtards.”

      1. If you think you need to repeal the 1st Amendment, you are doing something wrong.

  33. Greenhouse is dull. Just like High Pitch Eric.

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  35. How did this person get a job reporting on the SCOTUS for 30 years? At the exalted NYT no less. She appears to know little or nothing about the law.

    1. If her last name was “Murphy or Rizzo”….would she?

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  37. I don’t play casinos. But I’m waiting for the quarantine to end. I want everyone to be healthy.

    1. Got news for you snowflake: Not everyone will be healthy. Some people will get sick, some people will die. I know that’s news to you, but get over it.

  38. Alito’s problem is he is an “italian” I suppose to Ms. Greenhouse..and Catholic as well. Old world grudges I suppose could be at play here. I suppose perhaps some anti-catholic or anti-christian is at play like it always is with NY Times “reporters.” It’s apparent what is going on here……

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