On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court blocked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from reestablishing his draconian strict attendance caps at worship services in areas hit hard by the coronavirus.
The court ruled 5-4 to block Cuomo from enforcing his October 6 “Cluster Initiative” against churches and other houses of worship that sued to challenge his unamerican restrictions.
The ruling is the first in which Justice Amy Coney Barrett played a decisive role. Barrett, who was President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee, joined the court on October. 27, after being confirmed by the US Senate after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18.
Meanwhile, it’s being reported that Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal wing in the dissenting opinion, but I wish they would stop reporting on him that way, because John Roberts IS of the court’s liberal wing. The leftists on the court’s dissent was that the court had acted rashly. According to the Constitution, the New York Governor is the one who acted rashly.
In an Orwellian fashion, Cuomo’s plan created a color-coded system on the limits of large gatherings and on businesses, supposedly to help stop an outbreak in NYC where cases were allegedly surging.
His orders were aimed at worship services at some synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, according to Bloomberg.
In the red zones, deemed the hardest-hit areas, the state limited attendance in houses of worship down to only 25 percent of their lawful occupancy or 10 people, whichever is fewer. The majority of complaints said the governor’s limits violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion. And they are right.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the concurring opinion that Cuomo treated religious activities less favorably than nonreligious ones, according to the New York Times. That goes against the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. And religion has Constitutional rights.
“It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques,” wrote Gorsuch, who was also named to the court by Trump.
“So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” he continued, according to a tweet from The Economist correspondent Steven Mazie. “Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?”
The ruling was considered a reversal of earlier actions taken in the course of the pandemic this year by the Court in response to state restrictions on organized religion. The justices beforehand refused to lift restrictions on churches in California and Nevada.
In the dissenting opinion, Roberts explained why the court’s leftists opposed the decision.
“Numerical capacity limits of 10 and 25 people, depending on the applicable zone, do seem unduly restrictive,” Roberts wrote, according to the New York Times. “It is not necessary, however, for us to rule on that serious and difficult question at this time.”
“The governor might reinstate the restrictions,” he continued. “But he also might not. And it is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic. If the governor does reinstate the numerical restrictions the applicants can return to this court, and we could act quickly on their renewed applications.”
President Trump took to social media to retweet the SCOTUSblog account that announced the high court’s ruling.
The American Criminal Liberties Union (ACLU) condemned the decision and warned it could “undermine New York’s efforts to curb the pandemic.”
“The freedom to worship is one of our most cherished fundamental rights, but it does not include a license to harm others or endanger public health,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program of Freedom of Religion and Belief. Actually, the Constitution says about religion that the government may not “prohibit the free exercise thereof;” It’s literally in the First Amendment!
Rich is syndicated opinion columnist for David Harris Jr. and owner of Maga-Chat.com. He writes about politics, culture, liberty and faith.
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