The Empire State’s Emperor, Andy Cuomo, claimed his order restricting the size of religious gatherings was neutral. “Cuomo told the justices, the order isn’t focused on gatherings because they are religious, but because of the possibility that they could be “superspreader” events.” The Court didn’t care.
In an unsigned opinion in the Catholic diocese case that also applies to the synagogues’ case, the five-member majority blocked the state from enforcing the attendance limits while the challengers continue to litigate the issue at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and, if necessary, return to the Supreme Court for a final decision on the merits. The court explained that Cuomo’s order does not appear to be neutral, but instead “single[s] out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.” For example, although a synagogue or a church in a red zone is limited to 10 people at a service, there are no limits on how many people a nearby “essential” business – which can include acupuncture or a camp ground – can admit.
It was a five-four decision.
Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett – sided with the religious groups and blocked the attendance limits. Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, dissented.
I’m not surprised by this at all.
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