Andrew Cuomo faces lawsuit over coronavirus ‘stay at home’ order

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is facing a federal lawsuit over the drastic coronavirus-related restrictions imposed on residents statewide, according to the Washington Examiner.

A lawyer from Brooklyn is suing Cuomo for allegedly infringing on his First Amendment right to practice his Jewish faith, the New York Post reported. An attorney for plaintiff Lee Nigen warned of “precedents with horrifying consequences” in a complaint filed Friday against Cuomo and the state of New York.

“Clearly, there is a grave public health emergency in New York. We understand that,” Norm Pattis, Nigen’s attorney, said in a written statement, according to the Post. “But lawful process matters and emergency orders of this sort, if left unchallenged, will evolve into precedents with horrifying consequences.”

Cuomo sued over coronavirus orders

Gov. Cuomo issued “stay at home” orders earlier this month that basically amounted to the sweeping “shelter in place” restrictions previously seen elsewhere, but which did not use that precise terminology. The measures require all businesses except those considered “essential” by public officials to close and also institute a ban on large public gatherings.

While the Democrat has received plenty of glowing media coverage for his candid daily briefings, his state’s “social distancing” limitations have prompted an outcry from residents worried about disruptions to the economy and the potential erosion of their civil liberties. In the lawsuit, Nigen’s attorney complained that Cuomo’s directives threatened his client’s right to practice his faith and meet freely with clients, family, friends, and “like-minded people.”

“Mr. Cuomo’s threat that his directives will be enforced by law enforcement cause Mr. Nigen to fear arrest if he attempts to travel for any other purpose other than getting medical attention or obtaining groceries, thus impermissibly chilling his exercise of his constitutional rights to travel,” his attorney said in the lawsuit, according to the Examiner.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has received less fawning coverage than Cuomo, but he has prompted plenty of alarm with his own sweeping coronavirus edicts. De Blasio threatened Sunday to permanently close synagogues and churches that do not obey social distancing rules, according to Fox News.

Escape from New York

Cuomo has not issued travel restrictions within New York, despite the rather far-reaching incursions he has already made on the freedom of his state’s residents. President Trump threatened to impose a quarantine on the New York tri-state area this weekend, prompting a barbed reply from Gov. Cuomo, but Trump later walked the idea back.

Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel advisory for the area. New York state and the New York City metro area represent the epicenter of the American outbreak with more than 1,200 deaths as of 6 p.m. Monday — an increase of 300 from just the morning before, according to The New York Times.

As the death toll climbs in the Empire State, New Yorkers fleeing the region have faced serious backlash. Rhode Island’s governor agreed to revise a new policy targeting drivers with New York license plates after Cuomo threatened to sue. Rhode Island will instead now stop all out-of-staters at the border, according to NBC News.

Cuomo ascending?

Despite the mounting controversy, some 90% of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo’s handling of the crisis, Fox News reports. The governor’s recent wave of press attention and occasional clashes with Trump over the coronavirus have even raised rumors of Cuomo challenging Trump in the November election. While Cuomo has dismissed the speculation, President Donald Trump suggested in an interview with Fox News on Monday that he “wouldn’t mind” competing against Cuomo. 

“I’m not running for president. I was never running for president. I said from day one I wasn’t running for president. I’m not running for president now. I’m not playing politics,” Cuomo declared Monday, according to the Examiner.

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