Catholic priests and Jewish congregants have filed a lawsuit against Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over double standards on worship and protests.
Two Catholic priests from upstate New York and three Orthodox Jewish congregants from Brooklyn filed a lawsuit on June 10 against Cuomo, de Blasio and Attorney General Letitia James in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.
“It is time to end New York’s experiment in absolute monarchy,” Thomas More Society special counsel Christopher Ferrara said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We are asking the court to put an end to these unconstitutional executive orders and their prejudicial enforcement.”
The lawsuit accuses Cuomo, de Blasio and James of infringing on freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, expressive association and due process, according to a news release from the Thomas More Society.
Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe has ordered the defendants to file a response by noon on June 15.
The Thomas More Society’s complaint lists a number of alleged abuses of power, accusing the defendants of exploiting the pandemic to create “a veritable dictatorship” through Cuomo’s executive orders, selectively enforcing social distancing through fines and punishments, and more.
“These orders, both the emergency stay-home and reopening plan declarations, clearly discriminate against houses of worship,” Ferrara said.
“They are illegally content based, elaborate, arbitrary and pseudo-scientific.”
“The governor and his agents, along with New York City’s mayor have employed favoritism and political platforms against people of faith,” Ferrara added.
“Why is a large worship gathering deemed more dangerous than a mass protest, full of shouting, arm-waving people in close proximity to one another?”
The lawsuit comes as de Blasio and Cuomo allow protests to go on throughout both New York City and the state while religious services have been banned or restricted.
De Blasio was asked a week ago why worshipers needed to remain at home but demonstrators could walk the streets in close quarters without repercussion.
“Four hundred years of American racism, I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services,” de Blasio answered, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Protests have erupted across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes.
De Blasio said Thursday that trips to a playground might be too risky, but declined to say the same about the protests.
The Thomas More Society noted in a news release that only days after de Blasio was caught without a face mask at a political gathering in New York City — despite the requirement that all New Yorkers wear face masks and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people — police enforced the state’s ban and kicked a small group of Hasidic Jewish children out of a park.
De Blasio has also threatened to arrest and prosecute members of the Jewish community who held “illegal” religious gatherings during the lockdown.
Cuomo and de Blasio did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the DCNF.
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