The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday night prevented New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from strictly attending services in areas affected by the new corona virus.
The court banned Cuomo from enforcing its Oct. 6 “Cluster Initiative” against the houses of prayer against which restrictions were challenged, based on a 5-4 judgment.
The order was the first in which Justice Amy Coney Barrett played a key role. Barrett, who was President Trump’s third Supreme Court candidate, joined the court on Oct. 27 after winning Senate confirmation following the September 18 death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the court in a dissenting opinion that the court acted hastily.
Cuomo’s initiative has created color-coded barriers to mass gatherings and business operations in order to curb the outbreak of the New York epidemic, which has been rampant in cases, Bloomberg News writes.
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He targeted worship in some synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, Bloomberg reported.
In the most severely affected areas, which were designated as red zones, the state limited attendance at houses of worship to 25% of their capacity or 10 people, whichever was less. The majority argued that its restrictions violated the protection of the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment.
Justice Neil Gorsuch agrees that Cuomo was less favorable to religious activities than non-religious, the New York Times writes.
“It is high time – it is high time – to make clear that although the pandemic poses a number of serious challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded implementing regulations that reopen liquor stores and bicycle shops but shutters churches, synagogues and mosques ”Wrote Gorsuch, who was also brought to court by President Trump.
“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 spend the afternoon exploring distant points and meridians.” continued, according to a tweet from Steven Mazie, a correspondent for The Economist. “Who knew public health fit so perfectly with worldly comfort?”
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The decision was seen as a reversal of the Supreme Court’s response to state restrictions on organized religion at the time of the previous epidemic, reports said. Judges had previously refused to lift restrictions on the churches in California and Nevada.
In a separate opinion, Roberts explained why the liberals of the court opposed the decision.
“Number capacity limits of 10 and 25 people seem unreasonably restrictive depending on the applicable zone,” Roberts wrote in the Times. “However, it is not necessary for us to decide on this serious and difficult issue at this moment.”
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“The governor can restore the restrictions,” he continued. – But maybe not. And an important issue is to override the decisions of public health officials that are necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly epidemic. If the governor restores the numerical restrictions, applicants can return to this court and we can respond quickly to their renewed requests. “