NEW YORK (VINnews) — In a big win for the Jewish community on Tuesday, a New York district judge entered a permanent injunction that bars all executive orders from Gov. Cuomo on houses of worship.
The judge’s decision comes after Cuomo’s cap of 10 and later 25 people on synagogues were found by the supreme court to be discriminatory. Other lower level courts had also previously ruled against Cuomo in these cases.
Cuomo is also reeling from a recent New York Times exposé, which revealed that nine top New York State health officials resigned after Cuomo demanded that doctors come up with scientific justifications for his COVID rules.
“Earlier this morning, the district court issued a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the restrictions on attendance at houses of worship contained in Executive Order 202.68,” said Agudah lawyer Avi Schick. “This decision restores the protection of religious practice that is guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution and reminds those in government that religion is not less important than business and entertainment.”
“Another consequence of this decision is that all of the summonses issued to Shuls for violations of Executive Order 202.68 should now be dismissed by the City,” continued Schick.
“I am hopeful that the City will soon rescind or void all the summonses issued and penalties imposed. Any shul that still has an issue with a summons they received should contact me.”
In the culmination of a months-long legal battle between Agudath Israel of America and the Governor of New York over the state’s restrictions on houses of worship, a federal District Court has now issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of all houses of worship specific limitations.
The District Court ruling in Agudath Israel v. Cuomo cemented and expanded upon previous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and prohibits the state from enforcing both the fixed numeric limits and the percentage of capacity limits in orange and red zones, as contained in the Governor’s Executive Order. Both such limits do not exist in similarly situated places of business.
The Governor did not contest Agudath Israel’s motion for a permanent injunction, and has committed to formally amend the contested Executive Order before the end of the month.
Commented Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel, “We wish we wouldn’t have had to go to court. But we had no choice, as Agudath Israel vigorously opposes any action which jeopardizes individuals’ first amendment rights to freely exercise religion, or which restricts religious practices differently than other activities. Religious freedom is the bedrock and touchstone on which this nation was founded.“
At the same time, we forcefully reiterate our call for ongoing care and prudence – in all activities – in light of COVID-19.”