Supreme Court sides with believers to challenge restrictions on New York places of worship

This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that the Supreme Court of the United States sided with synagogues and churches to challenge the new rules put in place in places of worship to stem the health crisis. 

Aas cases of coronavirus continue to increase in the country, Christianity Today reports that the Supreme Court on Wednesday, November 25 banned New York City from enforcing limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as most affected by the virus. Measures imposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

A close vote of 5 against 4. The majority against the maintenance of these restrictions being made up of the five conservative judges of the Supreme Court, including new judge Amy Coney Barrett. Opposite are the three Liberal judges of the tribunal as well as Chief Justice John Roberts. This is the first vote in which the majority of conservatives are visible since the appointment of the Catholic judge.

In the first wave of the pandemic, with Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg still in office, the Supreme Court voted for the maintenance of capacity restrictions in places of worship affecting churches in Nevada and California. A vote that was also close to 5 to 4, but in favor of the Liberals.

This time the majority said that the restrictions imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo violated the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion.

“The members of this Court are not experts in public health and we must respect the judgment of those who have particular expertise and responsibility in this area. But even in the event of a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put aside and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively preventing many people from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom. "

The court action was a victory for the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues who filed a lawsuit to challenge state restrictions announced by the governor on October 6. Diocesan lawyer Randy Mastro has assured to be "extremely grateful".

“We are extremely grateful that the Supreme Court has acted so quickly and decisively to protect one of our most fundamental constitutional rights - the free exercise of religion. "

While Avi Schick, a lawyer for Agudath Israel of America (an American organization that represents Orthodox Haredi Jews) wrote in an email reported by Christianity Today that it was a "historic victory"

“It's a historic victory. This landmark decision will ensure that religious practices and religious institutions are protected from government decrees that do not treat religion with the respect constitutionally required. "


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