New York Says Render Unto Cuomo

‘We have a couple of unique clusters, frankly, which are more religious organizations, and that’s what we’re targeting.” That’s how Gov. ...


‘We have a couple of unique clusters, frankly, which are more religious organizations, and that’s what we’re targeting.” That’s how Gov. Andrew Cuomo, talking to CNN, described a recent tightening of his Covid-19 regulations. Is it any wonder that religious New Yorkers are now seeking the shelter of the First Amendment?

This week two Orthodox Jewish synagogues, affiliated with the organization Agudath Israel, appealed to the Supreme Court, asking to be freed of Mr. Cuomo’s order limiting houses of worship in certain zones to 10 or 25 people, no matter their normal capacity. The synagogues say they had “carefully and successfully complied” with mask requirements and social-distancing rules, and they’d split the traditional service into “several separate gatherings.”

Yet Mr. Cuomo’s “guilt-by-religious-association restrictions” have now made it “impossible” for them to exercise their faith, their application says. The burden is particularly heavy on the Orthodox, because they “are prohibited from vehicular travel on Saturdays and holidays,” making it impractical for them to “travel to synagogues outside of their restricted zones.”

Mr. Cuomo announced his Covid-19 “cluster” initiative in October, applying it to specific areas, such as in Brooklyn, that the applicants say show “clear gerrymandering to encircle primarily Orthodox communities and synagogues.” They also cite Mr. Cuomo’s comments on a call with Jewish leaders. “This is a fear-driven response,” he said. “You know, this is not a policy being written by a scalpel.” The application went to Justice Stephen Breyer, who has asked New York to reply by Friday.

In a separate appeal filed to Justice Breyer last week, the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn says Mr. Cuomo’s order “expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ by that name for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses.” In red zones, the most restricted areas, offices and pet stores can run without capacity limits, because the Governor deems them “essential,” the filing says. In orange zones, “almost all commercial enterprises” can stay open.

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Newsrust: New York Says Render Unto Cuomo
New York Says Render Unto Cuomo
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