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Monday round-up

The Supreme Court’s Friday night decision to deny emergency relief to a Nevada church that challenged the state’s coronavirus restrictions generated strong reactions over the weekend. In a story for SCOTUSblog (which was first published at Howe on the Court), Amy Howe explains the church’s challenge to a state policy that limits church gatherings to 50 people while allowing other facilities – including bars and casinos – to operate at 50% of their capacity. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four more liberal justices in denying the church’s request for relief. In the Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that the church “sought to conduct services for up to 90 congregants, but pledged to implement various social-distancing rules and other measures to contain Covid-19’s spread.” At CNN, Ariane de Vogue and Caroline Kelly point out that the Friday order is “the second time Roberts has voted to reject a request from a church amid the pandemic.” He also sided with the liberals in May to reject a challenge from a California church contesting church attendance limits. In Vox, Ian Millhiser adds that Roberts’ vote in the Nevada case is notable because the Nevada church’s argument for disparate treatment “presented a much stronger legal argument than the church in the earlier case.” In Slate, Daniel Politi reports that conservative politicians expressed outrage over the ruling.

Other analysts are focusing on the court’s role in emergency election litigation. NPR’s Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred and Nina Totenberg examine the court’s rulings in voting-rights cases so far this year and report that, “[w]ith a pandemic raging and uncertainty brewing, some fear the Supreme Court’s chilly attitude toward election lawsuits may add yet another obstacle to a free and fair election in November.” At the Appeal, Jay Willis opines that the court’s five conservatives are contributing to voter suppression, meaning that “as long as Roberts and company hold the line, political and legal victories for progressives will be occasional, unexpected, and limited in their impact.”


  • On Thursday, the University of California, Irvine School of Law held its 10th annual Supreme Court term-in-review, featuring journalists and legal scholars. The video of the event is available here.
  • In an essay for the Regulatory Review’s annual Supreme Court series, Katie Eyer argues that the result in Bostock v. Clayton County is the beginning, not the end, of the fight against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. She argues that “[i]t is time for our elected officials to affirm that commitment to LGBTQ equality in the form of national legislation.” Also in the series, Michael Harper contends that, after Comcast v. National Association of African American-Owned Media and Babb v. Wilkie, liability under anti-discrimination statutes will turn on whether a statute demands but-for causation. He writes that “Comcast and Babb should make clear for Congress, lower courts, and lawyers how the Court would treat causation under other anti-discrimination provisions.”
  • In Law360, Mike McBride III analyzes jurisdictional and regulatory implications of the court’s recent decisions on Native American land in Oklahoma.
  • Amaury Reyes-Torres analyzes the court’s recent decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue in a post titled “5 problems of a result-driven judicial review.”

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Recommended Citation: James Romoser, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 27, 2020, 8:21 AM),