“We remain committed to reopening our churches, safely, and to vindicate our First Amendment rights.”
From the In My Backyard Desk, and CNN:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is asking the US Supreme Court to block New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that limits the number of people who can attend worship services because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The filing is the latest pitting religious groups against city and state officials seeking to stop the spread of Covid-19 and could highlight the impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the court.
So far, the court has been closely divided on the issue regarding in-person attendance at church services. In a 5-4 decision last May, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberals to side with state officials in a similar dispute out of California. Since then, however, Barrett, who could be the deciding vote in the new petition, has replaced liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.
A district court said the diocese had been “ahead of the curve” enforcing safety procedures but declined to block the order.
From The Brooklyn Tablet:
The diocese has filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, asking that the highest court in the land agree to hear the case on First Amendment grounds. The diocese charged that imposing strict attendance — in some cases, as little as 10 people at the Mass — violates religious freedom.
The emergency petition was submitted on Nov. 9 by Randy Mastro, the attorney representing the diocese, to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
“We remain committed to reopening our churches, safely, and to vindicate our First Amendment rights. That is why we have petitioned the Supreme Court,” the diocese said in a statement.
Related: Cuomo’s crackdown angers Catholics
“We are confident we will prevail for the good of our churches and those of faith who want to operate safely yet continue to suffer under the Governor’s express restrictions on ‘houses of worship,’ ” the statement continues.
The diocese petitioned the Supreme Court following a legal setback in its lawsuit against the governor over the restrictions he imposed on Oct. 6 on houses of worship in New York neighborhoods with higher than average COVID-19 positivity rates.
The diocese filed suit against Cuomo, in his official capacity as governor, on Oct. 8. On Nov. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the diocese’s appeal of earlier decisions by judges in Brooklyn Federal Court, who sided with Cuomo. The decision came a few days after the diocese presented its case at a hearing at the Court of Appeals on Nov. 3.