Jews and Catholics Ask Supreme Court To Stop NYC Religious Services Ban
Catholic and Jewish organizations in New York City are taking restrictions on religious services to the Supreme Court. The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn filed a plea with the U.S. Supreme Court last week. Now, several Orthodox Jewish groups and leaders and are also asking the Supreme Court to bar enforcement of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s October 6 executive order restricting attendance at houses of worship.
They suggest to the Court that Cuomo “made clear through unambiguous statements that the order was targeted at a religious minority’s practices and traditions,” and ask “whether an executive order violates the Free Exercise Clause when the order, on its face, disfavors worship.”
“For six weeks and counting, Applicants have been laboring under discriminatory restrictions on their religious exercise,” states the plea from Agudath Israel of America, Inc., Agudath Israel of Kew Garden Hills, Agudath Israel of Madison, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, and Steven Saphir. It continues:
Their neighborhoods and religious institutions have been—in the words of the Governor himself—”targeted.” The Governor publicly asserted that other Orthodox Jews had violated his prior rules, and therefore the Governor imposed severe restrictions on worship across several Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. Applicants themselves are not alleged to have violated any public health or safety rules. To the contrary, they have carefully and successfully complied with mask requirements, social distancing, and capacity constraints. Yet the Governor’s guilt-by-religious-association restrictions have made it impossible for Applicants and their members to exercise their religious faith. The restrictions have eliminated the ability of many Jews to worship on important religious holy days. None of this is necessary to protect public health.The Governor has admitted that the restrictions are not based on science, but rather on “fear” and “emotion” about areas that would be “safe zones” in other states.
You can read the full petition here.
Last week, the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn made a similar ask of SCOTUS. The diocese also claimed Cuomo’s order was discriminatory, saying that it “expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ by that name for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses, and does so in a way that is not narrowly tailored to any compelling government interest, in direct violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.”
More on that case here.
“Do you appreciate how extraordinary that proposition is?” asked Patricia Millet, a federal judge, of U.S. prosecut
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