by Damjan Tutarkov
A New York federal appeals court has blocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19-related limitations on gatherings in houses of worship.
A three-judge panel on the Manhattan-based U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday unanimously ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America and two synagogues who had sued the Democratic governor over his October order limiting gatherings inside religious establishments.
The judges argued Cuomo’s restrictions on religious gatherings violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and discriminated “against religion on its face.”
“The restrictions challenged here specially and disproportionately burden religious exercise,” Judge Michael Park wrote in the ruling, according to the New York Post. “We conclude that [Cuomo’s] Order discriminates against religion on its face.”