The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday backed Jewish and Christian places of worship against the State of New York’s latest regulations in covid-19 “hot spots.”
In a 5-4 vote, the court granted requests submitted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn as well as two Orthodox Jewish synagogues.
The decision marked one of the first significant actions of President Trump’s appointee Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast a deciding vote, siding with the religious groups. Chief Justice John Roberts gave a dissenting opinion as well as the court’s three liberal justices.
The order relates to an October 6 decision by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to close “non-essential” businesses in the areas where covid infections allegedly spiked. This includes certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The restrictions limited gatherings at religious locations to 10 people and in certain areas and 25 in other areas.
The religious groups charge that the regulations violate their freedom of religion, which is protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. It added that their institutions were unfairly singled out for more strict limitations than essential businesses were, including food stores.
A federal judge at a court in Brooklyn rejected separate requests made by the Christian and Jewish groups on Oct. 9. The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined emergency requests filed by both sets of challengers on Nov. 9.
In two past cases this year, the court on 5-4 votes denied similar requests by places of worship in California and Nevada.
Those votes happened prior the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.