Judges Reject Jewish, Catholic Group Challenges to New NY Coronavirus Restrictions
A federal judge has cleared restrictions on religious gatherings in designated coronavirus hotspots in New York, citing the urgency of preventing the disease from spreading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of restrictions on large gatherings in areas with coronavirus clusters on Tuesday. These restrictions prohibit gatherings of more than ten people in places of worship, completely prohibit mass gatherings, and close non-essential businesses, while restaurants are restricted to take-out restaurants.
In New York, the coronavirus has resurfaced in areas with large numbers of Orthodox Jews, including parts of Rockland and Orange counties and several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. (Another cluster appeared in Broome County, west of the Catskill Mountains.) Agudath Israel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish advocacy group, sued New York State on the grounds that the restrictions were religious discrimination.
However, Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto of the Eastern District Court in Brooklyn said in a ruling Friday that the new restrictions were non-discriminatory and justified in the face of new coronavirus outbreaks.
"How can we ignore the overriding government interest in protecting the health and life of all New Yorkers?" Matsumoto said.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn brought its own lawsuit against the restrictions, which was also defeated on Friday in a judgment by Judge Eric Committee of the Eastern District Court.
Governor Cuomo "made it remarkably clear that this [executive] order was intended to target a different group of religious institutions," namely ultra-orthodox religious assemblies, Committee wrote in its decision. The Diocese of Brooklyn "appears to have been carried away by these efforts, since at least so far they have largely been spared the problem at hand."
Both Agudath Israel and Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio have vowed to appeal the decisions and urged residents to adhere to health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
More from National Review
Religious groups are suing New York State over new COVID restrictions on worship
Federal judge decides Cuomo, De Blasio has exceeded authority by curtailing religious services and tolerating protests
New York, New Jersey crackdown on social distancing measures
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