The United States Supreme Court ruled against Governor Cuomo’s Covid restrictions on religious gatherings which stipulated 10 to 25 people. Newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Bret Kavanaugh, who were both nominated by President Trump, along well as Neil Gorsuch held the majority. However, three liberal justices including Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice John Roberts disapproved.
The court came to the conclusion the restrictions placed on them violated religious freedom and believed the churches were unfairly targeted as the order “single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.” The court also concluded that there was no evidence religious gatherings impacted the spread of Covid 19.
Governor Cuomo fired back at the court’s decision by expressing it was “irrelevant from any practical impact.” He also asserted the court’s decision was neither final or valid because the restrictions for which the churches counteracted were no longer in effect and had been scaled back.
The Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America who filed the lawsuit against the State of New York have churches and synagogues in red and orange zones where Queens and Brooklyn are located. Since the initial restrictions were imposed, the Queens and Brooklyn areas are now zoned as “yellow” which is less restricted.
This event is illustrative there is a profound line of demarcation between acting in the name of public safety and the constitutional right to assembly for houses of worship. We have clearly seen across this country images of mass gatherings that were permitted, so to witness this victory is quite refreshing.