Supreme Court Blocks New York City’s COVID Restrictions on Churches and Synagogues

The United States Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday evening that previously imposed restrictions on New York City places of worship by Governor Andrew Cuomo (R) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why is this important: The 5-4 vote decision heralds the first significant action by President Trump-appointed new Tory Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who voted forcefully for the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

  • While the groups are no longer subject to occupancy restrictions of 10 and 25 people, the ruling signals a change in the now-conservative majority court.
  • Earlier this year, the court refused to lift pandemic restrictions in California and Nevada when the late Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in court.

What they say: “Not only is there no evidence that the applicants contributed to the spread of COVID-19, but there are many other less restrictive rules that could be adopted to minimize the risk to people attending religious services,” said declared the majority of the court in an unsigned notice.

For memory: Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts dissented on the latest ruling, along with the three Liberal members of the court.

  • “The governor could reinstate the restrictions, but he also might not,” Roberts wrote.
  • “And it is important to override decisions made by public health officials about what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic.” If the governor reinstates the number restrictions, applicants can return to this tribunal, and we could act quickly on their renewed claims. “

To note: COVID-19 cases increasing across the United States, including At New York, or Cuomo announced plans Wednesday to reopen a temporary field hospital on Staten Island next week to help deal with rising hospitalizations from the virus.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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