Supreme Court blocks worship restrictions
In a 5-4 decision late Wednesday night, the Supreme Court blocked enforcement of New York’s coronavirus-related limits on attendance at churches and synagogues. The unsigned opinion argued Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order singled out places of worship for greater restrictions than for businesses in the same areas. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the opinion said. The court’s action temporarily restrains an executive order from Cuomo as challenges to the order work their way through federal courts.
Does this opinion mark a shift for the court? Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined with the majority opinion, while Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s three liberal justices in support of Cuomo’s executive order. Earlier this year, before Barrett replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court left in place similar capacity restrictions on churches in California and Nevada.
Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about the New York lawsuit and similar cases.
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