98°F
weather icon Clear

Federal judge upholds cap on services after Las Vegas church sued

Updated June 10, 2020 - 8:13 am

A federal judge denied motions from Calvary Chapel that would allow it to reopen at 50 percent capacity after the church sued state officials over COVID-19 closures.

The church’s Lone Mountain and Dayton locations each filed lawsuits against Gov. Steve Sisolak, Attorney General Aaron Ford and Justin Luna, Nevada’s emergency management chief, last month after churches throughout the state were forced to close under an emergency order from the governor.

“It’s very disappointing,” said attorney Sigal Chattah, who represents Calvary Chapel. “We’re disappointed that casinos are allowed to have spectators,” such as crowds that gather to watch acrobatics shows at Circus Circus, “where the state argued that live spectator events are not allowed.”

A response filed by Deputy Solicitor General Craig Newby argues that the state considers crowds in or around casinos as strictly engaged in “commerce,” while church services constitute a “mass gathering,” arguing that each involve different types of person-to-person contact over differing lengths of time.

The state also argued that the executive branch of Nevada’s government is responsible for responding to public health crises and that the judicial branch “should not substitute its judgment for that of the governor.”

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware followed precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 28, in which it denied a similar injunction filed by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church against California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Chattah said Boulware did not immediately see evidence that the church had been penalized for breaking social distancing guidelines, but Calvary Chapel still has the chance to come forward again if it finds itself the subject of fines or enforcement over infractions for which casinos are left alone.

Calvary Chapel Lone Mountain plans to appeal Boulware’s decision before any unconstitutional enforcement can happen, she said.

Ford’s office declined to comment on pending litigation.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
Arrests Made In Murder Investigation
Nickolas Vonalst, Monika Gonzalez, and a juvenile were arrested following a murder investigation that began on June 23rd, 2020. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/YouTube)
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a homicide
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a homicide at the area of East Flamingo Road and Palos Verde Street on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Police investigate officer-involved shooting in northern Las Vegas - Video
An individual who police say was brandishing a sword was shot and injured by Las Vegas police, prompting a barricade situation in the central Las Vegas Valley on Monday, June 23. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Woman steals truck, fires at officer - Video
Shanita Hearns, 34, of Las Vegas shot at Henderson Police officers after stealing a truck from a gas station at Horizon Drive and Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson on May 31. She was eventually arrested near Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard after Nevada Highway Patrol officers jumped a median to ram into the side of the truck. (Henderson Police Department)
Mobbed Up - Part Five teaser
A look at some of the interesting reminders of a mob life in the home of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, featured on the fifth episode of the Mobbed Up podcast. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shootings during Las Vegas protest leave 1 dead, officer in critical condition
A Las Vegas police officer was shot and critically injured Monday night. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police briefing on shooting during Black Lives Matter protest
Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefs the media on shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest that left one man dead and a Metro officer in critical condition on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Customer reacts to store looting
Longtime customer Najja Hashim talks about the looting of a neighborhood convenience store. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Search continues for homicide suspects - Video
In October 2017, 62-year-old David Rathbun was reported missing by family members and later found deceased in Arizona. The Las Vegas police homicide section is asking for the public’s assistance in locating 55-year-old Charles Ausiello and 45-year-old Jolene Hibbs who are suspects in Rathbun’s death. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two men were stabbed Thursday morning at a central Las Vegas home - Video
Two men were stabbed at a central Las Vegas home, Thursday morning, May 21, leaving both with life-threatening injuries. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Cellphone tower destroyed In Nye County - Video
The Nye County Sheriff's Office is investigating a cellphone tower being destroyed in Pahrump. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Shots Fired in Downtown Las Vegas
Police reported that they were investigating a shooting in which a suspect fired a weapon at officers on Fremont Street on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Police briefing on officer-involved shooting northeast of Las Vegas - VIDEO
Metro Police Department Capt. Nichole Splinter gives a briefing from the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Apex Road and Interstate 15, northeast of Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police ID man killed in officer-involved shooting - VIDEO
A 24-year-old man with a sawed-off shotgun was shot dead by Las Vegas police in front of a red car the man allegedly tried to steal toward the end of car a chase Tuesday with speeds of more than 100 mph through multiple areas of the valley. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide after a man was found deceased in the parking lot of a strip mall at 9640 W. Tropicana Ave. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Homicide briefing
Las Vegas police investigate a homicide in southwest Las Vegas. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate homicide
Las Vegas police investigate a homicide in southwest Las Vegas. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate officer-involved shooting in east valley - VIDEO
Las Vegas police on Tuesday were investigating an officer-involved shooting in the east valley. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye county detective returns home from hospital - VIDEO
A Nye County Sheriff’s Office detective who was shot in March was released from the hospital Wednesday and is recovering at home with family. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Metro officer arrested for allegedly stealing from K-9 charity
An officer with the Metropolitan Police Department for more than two decades was arrested by the agency on Friday and booked into jail on suspicion of stealing thousands of dollars from a Las Vegas police foundation.
THE LATEST
Nevada high court weighs murder charges in DUIs

The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned why prosecutors in Las Vegas have decided to charge some DUI suspects with murder, evoking commentary on whether race and wealth played a role.