Just in time for Thanksgiving, the nation’s highest court handed a victory to religious worshipers who have felt embittered by arbitrary coronavirus restrictions.
In a stunning decision, the U.S. Supreme Court chastened Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for effectively setting the Constitution aside with his lockdown policies.
Cuomo sneers at SCOTUS ruling
The case dealt with Gov. Cuomo’s decision to cap admittance to houses of worship like synagogues and churches in so-called “red” and “orange” zones in New York City to 10 and 25 people, respectively.
In a 5–4 opinion, the majority agreed with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn to grant a temporary injunction against Cuomo’s orders, arguing that Cuomo had “single[d] out” houses of worship with “especially harsh treatment,” since secular businesses considered “essential” were not similarly affected.
“In a red zone, while a synagogue or church may not admit more than 10 persons, businesses categorized as ‘essential’ may admit as many people as they wish,” the justices wrote. “And the list of ‘essential’ businesses includes things such as acupuncture facilities, campgrounds, garages, as well as many whose services are not limited to those that can be regarded as essential, such as all plants manufacturing chemicals and microelectronics and all transportation facilities.”
Cuomo, for his part, sneered at the ruling, calling it “irrelevant” since the zones in question had been pared back. “It expired last week. It doesn’t have any practical effect,” he said, as the Washington Examiner reported.
“The Supreme Court made a ruling. It’s more illustrative of the Supreme Court than anything else,” the governor added.
Court: The Constitution still applies
But the majority disagreed, noting that Cuomo could potentially reinstate the restrictions at any time. “The Governor regularly changes the classification of particular areas without prior notice. If that occurs again, the reclassification will almost certainly bar individuals in the affected area from attending services before judicial relief can be obtained,” the majority opinion reads.
As the court summarized the matter, “even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan hailed the decision. “I’d like to congratulate [Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio] and the [Diocese of Brooklyn] on their victory for religious freedom in the U. S. Supreme Court. Our churches are essential,” he tweeted, according to The Hill.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, alerted his followers to the good news with a simple tweet:
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! https://t.co/56e8Qy7O22
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2020