NEW YORK (VINnews) — The US Supreme Court issued a midnight ruling in favor of a suit brought by Agudath Israel and the Diocese against NY Governor Cuomo’s rules regarding synagogues and other houses of worship. The ruling was 5-4. Judge Roberts joined the three liberal judges in dissent.
These votes mark the first marked impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the Court with the new conservative leaning majority, as opposed to her predecessor Ruth Bader-Ginsburg who helped establish a liberal majority.
“This is an historic victory. This landmark decision will ensure that religious practices and religious institutions will be protected from government edicts that do not treat religion with the respect demanded by the Constitution” said Avi Schick, the attorney for the plaintiffs who challenged Governor Cuomo’s cluster initiative which had caused the restriction of synagogues and mass gatherings in areas deemed red, orange and yellow.
The Agudah lawsuit raised numerous objections to the current executive order, including claiming that the order was intended to “target” the Orthodox Jewish community. The brief notes that the red, orange and yellow zones were first implemented exclusively in Orthodox Jewish areas, and without any metrics or scientific justification.
Moreover, the lawsuit questioned why red zone shuls are limited to 10 per building, while financial services firms, pet shops, liquor shops, and other “essential” stores can operate without any limit on numbers of employees or customers. The suit claimed that arbitrary limits on numbers of people allowed irrespective of the size of the house of worship is both scientifically and legally untenable. Moreover, the suit claimed that New York’s regulations against synagogue worship are far more restrictive than those of any other state.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Gorsuch wrote that “there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
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