Briefs filed in Lebovits v. Cuomo and Agudath Israel of America v. Cuomo
Earlier this month, I blogged about Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions that shuttered house of worship and schools in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods (See here, here, here, here, and here). Since then, I have been actively involved in some litigation.
First, I represent parents and a Jewish school that challenged the Governor’s orders. The Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty (JCRL) was proud to partner with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty to file suit. The case, Lebovits v. Cuomo, is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.
Here is the summary of our argument:
For over 100 years, Orthodox Jewish girls have been learning and practicing their faith in Bais Yaakov schools. And for almost as long, the Supreme Court has recognized that the Constitution protects the “fundamental right” of parents like Plaintiffs Yitzchok and Chana Lebovits to direct their children’s religious education. That is as it should be, particularly in a country to which so many Jews came to escape persecution and to preserve the freedom to raise and educate children in their own faith.
In a different case, a court might be asked to ascertain the point at which this fundamental right must yield to a government’s claim that in-person education poses a public health risk. Indeed, this Court already considered the public health claim once in Soos v. Cuomo, — F. Supp.3d —, 2020 WL 3488742 (N.D.N.Y. June 26, 2020), enjoining Governor Cuomo’s and Mayor De Blasio’s efforts to apply an indoor capacity limitation only on houses of worship. But this case is even easier, because here the Governor himself openly admits that COVID is “not being spread by schools.” And BYAM is particularly safe, both because it follows rigorous, State-approved protocols—resulting in zero known cases to date in the school—and because it plans to test all students and staff before returning to school….
Nor can the
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