Supreme Court denies Nevada church's appeal of attendance restriction amid coronavirus pandemic.
“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,”
Noted the AP, “Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley argued that the hard cap on religious gatherings was an unconstitutional violation of its congregation’s First Amendment rights to express and exercise their beliefs.”
Justice Alito was absolutely right when he wrote, “The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. It says nothing about the freedom to play craps, or blackjack, [or] feed tokens into a slot machine.”
Likewise, Justice Gorsuch was dead on correct when he wrote, “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 Caesar Palace over Calvary Chapel.”
Nevada has placed a 50-person cap on all places of worship, no matter the capacity of the building, as a part of the state's coronavirus restrictions. But casinos, along with other businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters, may permit up to 50% capacity, allowing casinos to grant access to hundreds of patrons at a time.
August 18, 1890 – NY Times
A Russian Jew’s Story
May Laws – “Laws to suit the Times”
Can buy or sell real estate
Could not travel across state lines – could not leave town
When their lease expired, it could not be renewed
Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh all issued dissenting opinions rejecting the constitutionality of the decision.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10-screen 'multiplex' may host 500 moviegoers at any time,” “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”
Nevada lawmakers had urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, arguing the claims of religious discrimination were false and unverified.
Nevada wrote last week “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.”
They said places of worship can permit as many followers as they like for outdoor services, and that law enforcement did not have the resources to enforce the 50% capacity regulations, whereas casinos are beholden to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which has enforced additional employee training on health requirements.
Supreme Court Justice Alito wrote, "Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church located in rural Nevada that appealed the regulation limiting church capacity, requested the ability to hold services for 90 people, roughly “50 percent of its fire-code capacity”.
The church reportedly made other concessions in recognition of the severity of the coronavirus that the state has not yet mandated.
“In addition to asking congregants to keep proper social distancing protocols, it intends to
cut the length of services in half.
to require six feet of separation between families seated in the pews,
to prohibit items from being passed among the congregation,
to guide congregants to designated doorways along one-way paths, and
to leave sufficient time between services so that the church can be sanitized”.
Justice Kavanaugh criticized Nevada’s lack of explanation as to why certain businesses are allowed to operate up to 50% capacity but maintained a hardline on places of worship.
“In my view, Nevada’s discrimination against religious services violates the Constitution,” Kavanaugh wrote Friday. “To be clear, a State’s closing or reopening plan may subject religious organizations to the same limits as secular organizations. And in light of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, those limits may be very strict.”
“But a State may not impose strict limits on places of worship and looser limits on restaurants, bars, casinos, and gyms, at least without sufficient justification for the differential treatment of religion,” Kavanaugh added.
Several lawsuits have made their way to the Supreme Court since states starting initiating coronavirus mandates and regulations, including an emergency appeal submitted by GOP lawmakers in Illinois, arguing against the state ban disallowing groups of 10 or more to form.
China Is Harvesting DNA From Millions of People.
Is This the Future of Policing?
New York Times July 24, 2020 By Emile Dirks and James Leibold
Authorities are systematically gathering genomic data from tens of millions of people.
For several years now, the police and other authorities in China have been collecting across the country DNA samples from millions of men and boys who are not suspected of having committed any crime.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute published a report last month, exposing the extent of the Chinese government’s program of genetic surveillance.
DNA collection has spread across the entire country. We estimate that the authorities’ goal is to gather the DNA samples of 35 to 70 million Chinese males.
Matched against official family records, surveillance footage or witness statements in police reports, these samples will become a powerful tool for the Chinese authorities to track down any man or boy — or a relative of his — for whatever reason they deem fit.
The Chinese government denies the existence of any such program, but since this study’s publication, they have uncovered online evidence revealing the program’s enormous scale, including government reports and official procurement orders for DNA kits and testing services.
DNA is being harvested across the country.
This report sites to have found photographic evidence of police collecting blood from children, pinpricking their fingers at school — a clear violation under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
They have found proof, including official documents, showing that DNA samples are also being gathered in major urban centers. (For a time, the focus seemed to be largely on rural communities.)
An official report dated June 16, available on a government website, details the creation of a DNA database by the Public Security Bureau, and seeks expert opinion on the creation of a “male ancestry investigation system.”
It documents how 17 public security offices have collected DNA samples from nearly 600,000 male residents across the city — that’s about 7% of that cities male population.
The report states that building a massive genetic database about local residents will help the police “maintain public order and stability as well as meet the needs of daily case work.” This is of no comfort.
In China, securing the public order essentially means maintaining the uncontested rule of the Communist Party. The Chinese police are not doing this work alone. Evidence continues to accumulate that private companies, both Chinese and foreign, are involved in this assault on the privacy of Chinese citizens.
In a statement issued to The New York Times for a news story last month related to the report, a representative of Thermo Fisher said that the company was “proud to be a part of the many positive ways in which DNA identification has been applied, from tracking down criminals to stopping human trafficking and freeing the unjustly accused.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. Commerce Department added to its list of sanctioned companies two subsidiaries of BGI Group — the Chinese parent company of Forensic Genomics International — for “conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of minorities”.
BGI Group has also been producing tens of millions of Covid-19 test kits for distribution to more than 80 countries — raising concerns in places like Australia and California that any DNA data collected in the process might then be misused.
For now, China appears to be the only country in the world where police are harvesting en masse DNA samples outside the scope of criminal investigations. But how much longer before others follow suit?
The police in New York routinely collect DNA samples from people they arrest or simply question. Across the United States, police officers search private ancestry sites looking for potential leads in cold cases — also without the knowledge or the consent of the people who uploaded their personal information.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration put in place a program requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to collect with mouth swabs DNA samples from people in their custody and add that information to the FBI’s DNA database.