The Supreme Court’s order temporarily blocking New York from setting coronavirus capacity limits at houses of worship is “irrelevant” and “moot,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed Thursday.
In the 5-4 decision, the court sided with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Orthodox Jewish synagogues, who sued Cuomo over his restrictions on congregating in state-designated coronavirus hot spots, saying his actions trampled on religious freedom.
Cuomo, in a Thanksgiving Day conference call with reporters, insisted the order was moot because the houses of worship in question in the curt battle are no longer in designated red and orange zones in Brooklyn in Queens so the restrictions no longer apply to them.
The safety restriction to tame the pandemic imposed attendance caps at houses of worship from 10 to 25 people, respectively. The plaintiffs argued that the restrictions violated their religious freedoms under the First Amendment and unfairly targeted them while businesses deemed essential, including groceries and takeout restaurants, were allowed to operate.
“The Supreme Court made a ruling. It’s more illustrative of the Supreme Court than anything else,” Cuomo said, noting the court’s new conservative bent with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett by President Trump.
“It’s irrelevant of any practical impact because of the zone they were talking about is moot. It expired last week,” the governor said, adding, “It doesn’t have any practical effect.”
“The lawsuit was about the Brooklyn zone. The Brooklyn zone no longer exists as a red zone. That’s muted. So that restriction is no longer in effect. That situation just doesn’t exist because those restrictions are gone.”
The governor’s legal adviser Beth Garvey, said houses of worship are now governed by less restrictive 50 percent capacity limits.
In its decision, the nation’s highest court said its decision temporarily blocking Cuomo’s executive order on the 10- and 25-person occupancy limits remains in effect pending further deliberation in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. They acknowledged the order narrowly addressed the zones in question, which are outdated.
Still in the larger context, the five justices in the majority warned they won’t tolerate violations of the First Amendment right to religious freedom — telegraphing what they might do... (Read more)
Submitted 60 days ago