Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship

Source: The Hill | November 26, 2020 | Geoffrey Rowland

The Supreme Court late on Wednesday sided with religious challengers to New York state’s latest coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court barred New York authorities from enforcing some limits on the number of people attending services in churches and synagogues in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The ruling highlighted the court’s recent rightward tilt as newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with four other conservative justices in the ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal judges in the dissent.

The ruling marked a shift for the court, as earlier this year, before the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it ruled 5-4 on similar cases out of Nevada and California.

Barrett was quickly confirmed to the bench following Ginsburg’s death in September.

In the unsigned majority opinion, the majority ruled for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, who argued that New York’s caps on the number of people who could attend services in designated coronavirus hot spots violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment due to the orders being more restrictive than on other facilities.

In court papers, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) had argued that restrictions on houses of worship were necessary in order to stem the surge of coronavirus cases in the state.

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  •  EVERYDAY #45010

    Such nonsense. Why do these faiths have to have in-person services in the first place? The Catholic diocese here went to virtual Masses in March and a hybrid of virtual and in-person most recently. Since our cases have risen, the Bishop said they may go back to virtual only again.

    This is not about rights. It’s about keeping people safe. The Catholic Church prides itself on being pro-life. But I guess in some quarters, pro-life applies only to the unborn. They don’t give a fig about the well being of the already born parishioners.

    Shame on the justices for being on the wrong side.

     Consistent #45111

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