Posted on Friday, November 20, 2020 5:48 pm Posted by Amy Howe
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the Supreme Court on Friday to steer clear of the state’s battle with two Orthodox synagogues in New York City over an executive order limiting attendance at places of worship as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus. Cuomo told the judges that due to “continued progress in containing the spread of COVID-19,” the restrictions that synagogues asked the court to block no longer apply to them.
Cuomo, a Democrat, issued the order at the center of the controversy in October. The purpose of the order and the initiative that was implemented, Cuomo explained in a file on Friday, is to identify clusters of COVID-19 cases, and to take “short-term aggressive measures” in and around those areas to prevent the virus from spreading and then monitor cases to determine how to proceed from over there. When the cluster is determined, the area around the cluster is known as the “red” area; The area around the red zone is known as the “orange” zone, and the area around the orange zone is known as the “yellow” zone. Attendance of worship services is limited to 10 persons in religious institutions in the red zone and 25 persons in the orange zone. Attendance in the yellow zone is limited to 50% of the maximum building occupancy.
Synagogues have challenged the restrictions on 10 and 25 people in federal court in New York, arguing that the restrictions make it impossible for them to hold services for all congregants. The district court denied a request to block the order, and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit refused to intervene while the synagogues appealed. Councils then He came to the Supreme Court On Tuesday, ask judges to suspend restrictions or, alternatively, to grant review without waiting for the Second Circuit to decide on their appeal.
in a Presentation of New York Attorney General Barbara UnderwoodThe country emphasized that its efforts to control the disease are bearing fruit. As a result, the state clarified, synagogues (and the rest of New York City) are now in yellow areas, with houses of worship restricted to 50% of the maximum occupancy – a limit not represented by synagogues.
But in any case, the state continued, both the District Court and the Second Circuit rejected the synagogues’ assertions that the executive order was motivated by hostility towards the Orthodox Jewish community. The state indicated that different regions affect different businesses and religious institutions. Some areas do not contain any Orthodox Jewish communities, while some Orthodox Jewish communities are “left untouched.”
Although Cuomo admitted, in a press conference in October, that his order might affect worship services, the state added, “It was made clear that the order did not target any gatherings due to their religious nature.” Instead, the state has made clear that the matter has focused on “mass gatherings” – such as places of worship – because of “superior potential for proliferation.”
The state stressed that Cuomo did not blame the spread of COVID-19 on the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. The state noted that if anything, the executive order treats religious gatherings better than secular activities with similar risks – such as plays, concerts, spectator sports, and movies – by allowing them to remain open, with restrictions on attendance.
The state also opposed the temples ’suggestion that preventing the application of restrictions would make the state” in line with the approaches of other countries. ” New York has bluntly told judges that “other countries’ approaches are not working,” as the current COVID statistics reflect. New York concluded that even if “public officials in other states may consider that some measures are sufficient to protect their citizens,” this “does not prevent New York State from pursuing a different public health strategy.”
Finally, the state rejected the synagogues’ suggestion that the court should consider their appeal before the second circuit can rule on it. The state noted that there is no urgency for their request because the limit of 10 and 25 people does not apply to synagogues now; Furthermore, the Second Circuit agreed to speed up its appeal, with an oral scheduling on December 18.
The state presented similar arguments on Wednesday in opposition to A. An order from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn To raise attendance limits. in that Filing in this case, The country commended the steps that churches have taken voluntarily to try to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. But these measures, the state argued, should not provide an exemption from attendance limits: among other things, these protocols have not been independently tested in COVID hotspots. The state is not required to “negotiate COVID-19 restrictions for every house of worship on a building-by-building basis,” she added.
Shortly after filing its objection on Wednesday, the state sent a letter to the court informing judges of the changes in the classification of districts in which parish churches are located. As of November 20, the letter clarified,nothing Diocesan churches will be affected by the congregation size limits they seek to impose. “
This post was Originally published in Howe on the Court.
New York asks judges not to interfere in a dispute over attendance restrictions at worship services,
Scotus Blog (November 20, 2020, 5:48 pm), https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/11/new-york-tells-justices-not-to-intervene-in-conflict-over-attendance -limits-in-services-worship /