New York Governor Cuomo says Supreme Court has no practical effect in overturning COVID restrictions on religious services

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Wednesday banning COVID restrictions on religious services in New York “has no practical effect” because the case is “already in dispute.”

“I think the Supreme Court’s decision on religious gatherings is more or less an illustration of the Supreme Court than anything else,” Cuomo told reporters during a Thursday morning teleconference. “It has no practical effect because the zone they talked about has already been relocated and expired last week.”

The Supreme Court filed two separate requests for urgency, one by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Agudath Israel Orthodox Jewish Congregation that the Cuomo targeted the houses of prayer in its COVID-19 orders while allowing essential businesses to operate with minor restrictions. operate. .

“In no pandemic can the Constitution be repealed and forgotten,” the court said in an unsigned majority opinion. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively banning many from attending religious services, are at the heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will make a statement at COVID-19 on July 6, 2020 in New York. According to legal complainant COVID-19, managed by Hunton Andrews Kurth Law Firm, more lawsuits have been filed against Cuomo than any other U.S. governor since the start of the pandemic.
David Dee Delgado / Getty

The Cuomo provided limited gatherings in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship in the most severely affected areas of the state for 25 worshipers in the “red zones” 10 and in the slightly less dangerous “orange zones”. The court held that these restrictions appeared to violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

Cuomo, disagreeing with the decision, noted that the areas in question were no longer in the zones limiting the number of people and said the decision therefore “has no practical effect”. The churches and synagogues requested by the Supreme Court were classified by the governor as a “yellow zone” previously in effect on November 20 – allowing them to operate at 50 percent capacity.

New York attorney Barbara D. Underwood stressed this review in a letter to the court last Thursday, stating that “no church in the diocese is affected by the limitation on the size of the collection it seeks to achieve.” The next day, the court said in an opposition statement that the synagogues involved in the application were also not subject to these restrictions.

Cuomo said the decision was simply aimed at expressing the “political philosophy” of the new court, especially given the difference in votes before Judge Amy Coney Barrett was appointed to the country’s supreme court last month.

“I think the fundamental question is, why does the court decide a controversial issue?” Cuomo said. “In other cases – since there were other cases that made the same argument – why would they decide a controversial case and make a different decision than you did several months ago on the same issue?”

“[SCOTUS] he wanted to say it was another court, ”he continued. – They make that statement […] and that is to be expected. We know who we have appointed to court, we know their ideology. “

Justice Barrett made the last decisive vote in the 5-4 decision. With three Liberal members of the court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the disagreement.

Conservative justice Neil Gorsuch – who agreed with justice Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas – criticized the Democratic governor, criticizing the perception of “basic enterprises”.

“So, at least the governor says we’re not sure we’re going to church, but it’s always good to pick up another bottle of wine, buy a new bike, or explore its distant points and meridians in the afternoon.” Gorsuch wrote. “Who knew public health fit so perfectly with worldly comfort?”

Gorsuch strongly criticized the integrity of Roberts and his liberal colleagues for their dissent, to which Roberts responded that he and his colleagues “simply look at the matter differently after reflecting on their efforts to fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities after careful study and analysis.”

In a separate opinion, Justice Sotomayor points to the devastating effects of the epidemic and the disregard for the opinion of health experts.

“Court judges are playing a deadly game in the secondary guessing of health officials’ expert opinion on the environments in which an infectious virus is spreading, which now infects one million Americans a week.” Sotomayor wrote.

In the footnotes, Sotomayor discussed a case called irony when he considered New York’s low infection rate due to Cuomo’s limitations.

“Ironically, because of the success of public health measures in New York, the diocese is no longer subject to the upper limits on the number of attendance it wants to achieve,” Sotomayor said. “Yet the Court allows this application to ensure that if the rate of infection rises again, the governor will not be able to implement measures that have proved so successful as to allow the free (and relatively safe) practice of religion in New York.”

He also reminded conservative members of the court that President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” did not take into account their concerns about religious discrimination.

“A few minutes ago, this court rejected the application of increased control over the presidential proclamation restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries, despite President Trump’s designation of the proclamation as a ‘Muslim ban’, originally described as a ‘complete and complete cessation’ by Muslims.” entry into the United States until the representatives of our country can figure out what is going on here, “” wrote Sotomayor.

“If the president’s statements do not show” that the contested restrictions violate the minimum requirement of religious neutrality, “it is difficult to comprehend how Governor Cuomo is performing,” the woman continued.

In his teleconference, Cuomo mentioned that the case was also not closed as it goes to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York’s Second District, which is pending.