WASHINGTON (AP) – As coronavirus cases rise again across the country, the Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily banned New York City from enforcing certain attendance limits at places of worship in areas designated as hard-hit by the virus.
The court’s action will not have an immediate impact since the two groups that have sued over the restrictions, the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues, are no longer subject to it. The groups had contested the attendance limits in areas designated as red and orange areas, but they are now in the less restrictive yellow areas.
The judges were divided 5-4, with new judge Amy Coney Barrett in the majority, her first publicly discernible vote as a judge. The three liberal justices of the court and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.
The move is a change for the court. Earlier this year, when Barrett’s liberal predecessor Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in court, judges split 5-4 to leave in place pandemic capacity restrictions affecting churches in California and Nevada .