Posted on Monday November 16th, 2020 at 6:53 PM by Amy Howe
Four days after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn asked judges to block enforcement of a New York executive order that restricted attendance at places of worship, two Orthodox Jewish synagogues came to the Supreme Court to make a similar motion. The challengers, which included two rabbis and an Orthodox Jewish organization, argued that their neighborhoods and religious institutions had been “targeted” and told the judges that the “restrictions on guilt imposed by religious associations” made it impossible for them to practice their religious beliefs.
The order in the middle of both filings was given in October by Andrew Cuomo (D), Governor of New York. Depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in the areas where a particular religious establishment is located, personal attendance at church services is limited to 10 or 25 people. The challengers went to the federal district court in New York, where they argued that the restrictions make it impossible for synagogues to hold services for all of their parishioners. The restrictions are also unduly affecting Orthodox Jewish worshipers, the challengers added, whose religious beliefs do not allow them to drive or use public transport to access synagogues in areas without restrictions.
The district court denied the synagogues’ motion to postpone the order, and the US Circuit Court of Appeals then declined to block the order while the synagogues appealed. Judge Michael Park disagreed with the 2nd Circle’s decision, concluding that Cuomos “confirm public statements that he intended to target the free exercise of religion”.
He stressed that the Supreme Court should block the execution of Cuomo’s order for all the reasons set out in the diocese’s filing last week. This focused on the extent to which the order allowed secular corporations to remain open while imposing severe restrictions on places of worship.The synagogues argued that Cuomo’s order affected the Orthodox Jewish communities positively: the governor made it clear that he had these strict limits imposed because other Orthodox Jews failed to obey previous COVID-19 rules, leading to an increase in infection rates, even if the synagogues now before the Supreme Court followed them. “The governor’s goal of targeting a religious minority as guilty during a pandemic and falsely taring them as perpetrators rather than victims of the virus,” the synagogues concluded, “is inconsistent with the free exercise clause of the constitution.”
A few hours after the diocese filed its request last week, Justice Samuel Alito, who would have made two requests from churches in California and Nevada this summer for relief from COVID-19 shutdown orders, spoke at the Federalist Society’s annual meeting. the conservative right-wing group. As Kalvis Golde reported for SCOTUSblog, Alito told the audience that the pandemic “has led to previously unimaginable restrictions on individual freedom”.
The synagogue’s motion will initially go to Judge Stephen Breyer, who is currently making emergency calls from the 2nd district. Breyer could then forward the application to the court of law.
This article was originally published by Howe on the Court.
Amy Howe, New York Synagogue, is asking judges to lift attendance restrictions.
SCOTUSblog (November 16, 2020 6:53 p.m.), https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/11/new-york-synagogues-ask-justices-to-lift-attendance-limits/