Federal court stops Sisolak’s assault on religious liberty

Federal court stops Sisolak’s assault on religious liberty

Meanwhile, incompetence at DETR continues on the Governor's watch

December 18, 2020


ITEM #1:  As Governor Steve Sisolak continues to bungle his response to the coronavirus outbreak — heavy-handed here, more permissive when politically expedient there — the past week finally brought a long-overdue rebuke of this ongoing abuse of authority.
Specifically, it was the Governor’s unjustifiably harsh treatment of places of worship that invited a much-deserved admonition from a federal court. Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks has the details:
“A federal court just delivered a judicial smack down to King Steve Sisolak. His Majesty can no longer discriminate against houses of worship.
“On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Sisolak couldn’t impose stricter virus restrictions on religious gatherings than on many secular businesses.
“Sisolak’s ‘directive treats numerous secular activities and entities significantly better than religious worship services,’ the three-judge panel’s opinion said. We ‘preliminarily enjoin the state from imposing attendance limitations on in-person services in houses of worship that are less favorable than 25 percent of the fire-code capacity.’”
As Joecks notes, the decision is consistent with a precedent put in place last month by the U.S. Supreme Court involving a similar case in the State of New York.
Gov. Sisolak’s overt hostility directed uniquely at places of worship has been downright shameful. As Joecks reminds us:
“In April, he prohibited churches, synagogues and mosques from holding services with 10 or more people. That included a ban on drive-in services, during which people stayed in their cars. Businesses that he deemed ‘essential,’ however, remained open to the public.
“In May, he allowed retail stores to operate at 50 percent capacity. Houses of worship, however, were limited to 50 people. It wasn’t until October that he permitted churches to meet in groups of 250 or 50 percent capacity, whichever was less. In that same directive, he allowed non-retail indoor venues, including bowling alleys and arcades, to operate at 50 percent capacity.
“Before Thanksgiving, Sisolak imposed a host of new restrictions on Nevada. Casinos, restaurants, gyms and other businesses may operate at 25 percent capacity. He prohibited houses of worship, however, from hosting gatherings of more than 50 people regardless of their capacity.”
You’ll want to check out Joecks’ full commentary on this, which you can do here.
We applaud the 9th Circuit for its decision to rein in our out-of-control, power-hungry Governor. And with the Christmas and holiday season upon us, it could not have come at a better time.

ITEM #2:  When he’s not busy wielding power inappropriately, Gov. Sisolak is hard at work exercising the power he does have incompetently.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board brings us the latest on the sorry state of affairs over at the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the agency ostensibly responsible for ensuring unemployment benefits get to those who need them:
“More than nine months into the pandemic, Nevada’s unemployment agency remains the dumpster fire of all dumpster fires. Yet Gov. Steve Sisolak continues to tolerate this embarrassment.
“In March, when initial shutdown orders left thousands out of work, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation faced an unprecedented rush. Backlogs were inevitable. But as we close in on 2021, excuses about being overwhelmed during a once-in-a-lifetime event are no longer sufficient to explain the bureaucratic incompetence. Complaints from jobless Nevadans about missing checks, delays, mixed messaging and unresponsiveness continue unabated.
“Consider the plight of Las Vegan Thomas Elgas, who told the Review-Journal that he waited four months to receive jobless benefits through a federal program for independent and self-employed workers. But the same day he received the money, he also found a missive from DETR in his mailbox informing him that he didn’t qualify for the program.
“Two months later, the news got worse when state unemployment officials said he had to repay the money. Or not. He then got a second notice saying the original letter was in error and he did indeed fall under the aegis of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance legislation. ‘This is insane,’ Mr. Elgas said.
“He is far from alone.”
Read more here.
We’ll take this opportunity to remind you that this debacle is occurring at a time when the near-entirety of our state government is run by Democrats — you know, the party that insists government can and should be entrusted with even greater control over our lives and our economy.

ITEM #3:  If you’re not yet tired of hearing about how California’s insanely left-wing approach to governance continues to drive the state to ruins, here’s another item for you, courtesy of City Journal:
“It’s hard to say the word 'innovation' and not think of California. Technology has paced the state’s growth in everything from agriculture and oil to housing, entertainment, and aerospace. California has always been the harbinger of the American future, the promise of ever-greater economic and social progress.
“Yet increasingly, many of today’s innovators are fleeing the state. This past week, one half of the company arguably most symbolic of tech development in the state — Hewlett Packard Enterprises — one part of the now broken-up old Hewlett Packard and focused on lucrative areas like cloud computing and IT infrastructure — decided to leave for Houston. Within a week Elon Musk, the latest in the line of truly transformative California tech entrepreneurs, also announced that he would move to Texas, along with Oracle, a Fortune 100 company and global leader in database management. Other recent departures also include more traditional firms as Charles Schwab, McKesson, Bechtel, Parsons Engineering, and CB Richard Ellis.”
You won’t be surprised to learn that it’s progressive policies that are inspiring the exodus.
“State housing policies, including climate-related regulation, and extraordinarily high development fees, have made it hard to build on the periphery of the major metros, where most population and job growth takes place. …
“Regulation against such things as fossil fuels has driven Occidental Petroleum, one of the largest home-grown firms, out of the state, and threatens the future of Southern California Gas and other remaining fossil fuel companies, not to mention the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in both the Central Valley and Southern California who work in the industry.
“Rivaling regulation as a negative is taxes. California already has the nation’s highest income tax — with a top marginal tax rate of 13.3 percent — and capital gains are taxed at that rate. A new proposal circulating in the legislature would add three new surcharges on seven-figure earners. It would add a 1 percent surcharge to gross income of more than $1 million, 3 percent on income over $2 million, and 3.5 percent on income above $5 million. That means a combined state and federal marginal tax rate of 54 percent for high earners.”
The Nevada Legislature is set to convene in a little over a month. And the Democrats who dominate our state government today continue to make clear their intent to force California-style policies on our state. How much more of a warning do they need? 

ITEM #4:  Actually, we don’t need to wait at all to see how the left-wing agenda might play out here in our Silver State.
The Wall Street Journal informs us of one case where that future is already here:
“Move over, Solyndra. Another green boondoggle from the Obama era has failed, and taxpayers are out as much as $510 million. Late last week Judge Karen Owens approved a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization by Tonopah Solar Energy. Tonopah operated the Crescent Dunes solar plant in Nevada that received $737 million in guaranteed loans from the Obama Administration.
“The plan includes a settlement with the Department of Energy that leaves taxpayers liable for as much as $234.68 million in outstanding debt, but the total public cost is even higher. Crescent Dunes also received an investment-tax credit, and the 2009 stimulus legislation allowed it to receive a cash payment in lieu of credit. In 2017 the plant received more than $275.6 million from Treasury under the Section 1603 program, which it used to service its outstanding liabilities. So taxpayers already gave Crescent Dunes cash to pay off its taxpayer-backed loans.”
They add: “This is one more cautionary tale in climate subsidies.”
Indeed it is. Whenever politicians start substituting their own judgment and priorities for those of producers and consumers in a free market, this is exactly the kind of disaster you can expect.

ITEM #5:  So much for equality under the law.
Writing for National Review, Mairead McArdle tells us that:
“Seattle is considering adopting a law that would excuse suspects from most misdemeanor crimes if they can be linked to poverty, mental illness, or addiction.
“The City Council is considering a proposal introduced earlier this year that would excuse suspects of crimes like theft, trespassing, and assault if the suspects are found to be suffering from poverty, a mental health crisis, or addiction.”
If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime … unless you happen to be broke, in which case, never mind.

ITEM #6:  WABC Radio in New York City reports that the city’s schools have passed a “Black Lives Matter At School” resolution.
The teacher union-driven resolution, which took three years to be adopted, will go into effect at a not-yet-determined date.
Among the many ideas championed by Black Lives Matter, you may recall, is a stated commitment to “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.”
Rich Valdes, a host on WABC and a Latino, is not impressed.
“This flies in the face of Americanism, inclusion, and unity by promoting the plight of one racial group over all others,” he said. “Per their (Black Lives Matter) website, BLM’s own adherence to Marxist principles are incongruent with most Americans.”
We’re sure New York City parents will be just thrilled to see this agenda become part of their children’s education as a matter of policy.

ITEM #7:  And speaking of awful yet predictable progressive ideas, you knew this one was coming at some point …
The left is now going after Abraham Lincoln.
The Daily Mail reports:
"A San Francisco district is planning to rename a school named after Abraham Lincoln because the former president did not demonstrate that 'black lives mattered to him'. …
"The district's renaming committee decided Lincoln is not worthy of keeping his name on Abraham Lincoln High School because 'the majority of his policies proved to be detrimental to [Native Americans].'"
Not even the Great Emancipator himself was sufficiently woke for today’s self-declared arbiters of justice and enlightenment.


“Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.” ― Justice Antonin Scalia
“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”  William F. Buckley
"School closures are irrational, not evidence-based, and impose massive harm on students and families." ― Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis