New York’s Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo took aim at the U.S. Supreme Court after a 5-4 decision Wednesday ruled that his restrictions on religious gatherings contradicted the First Amendment.
According to The New York Times, Cuomo blamed justices’ “partisanship,” especially targeting President Donald Trump’s three appointees, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
“You have a different court, and I think that was the statement that the court was making,” Cuomo said.
“We know who he appointed to the court,” he continued. “We know their ideology.”
“The Supreme Court made a ruling,” the New York Post reported Cuomo also said. “It’s more illustrative of the Supreme Court than anything else.”
“Earlier this year, when Barrett’s liberal predecessor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was still on the court, the justices divided 5-4 to leave in place pandemic-related capacity restrictions affecting churches in California and Nevada,” WABC-TV noted.
Cuomo had imposed restrictions beginning in October for “certain areas of New York where infection rates were climbing,” The Times reported, with limits between 10 to 25 following “a surge of cases in several Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, Queens and two suburban counties.”
Cuomo tried to claim that the decision, sparked by lawsuits from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, didn’t really matter, describing them as “irrelevant from any practical impact because the zone they were talking about has already been moot.”
“I think this was really just an opportunity for the court to express its philosophy and politics,” he said during a conference call on Thanksgiving, stating the restrictions “expired last week.”
CNN reported Cuomo said “the decision isn’t final,” although his edicts cannot be enforced while appeals continue regarding other portions of his overreaching coronavirus regulations.
“It didn’t affect our mass gathering rules,” Cuomo continued. “It didn’t mention the overall limits.”
According to The Times, the court “forcefully entered the arena, signaling that it was willing to impose new constraints on executive and emergency orders during the pandemic, at least where constitutional rights are affected,” with restrictions typically “enacted by Democratic officials and enforced through curfews, closures and capacity limits, have been resisted by some members of the public, but largely upheld by the courts.”
“Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area,” the majority wrote. “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
“The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” they wrote.
“There can be no question that the challenged restrictions, if enforced, will cause irreparable harm. … If only 10 people are admitted to each service, the great majority of those who wish to attend Mass on Sunday or services in a synagogue on Shabbat will be barred,” the justices asserted.
“There is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops, but shutter churches, synagogues and mosques,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote.
The Times reported on George W. Bush-appointed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s dissent, noting the First Amendment conflict but calling it futile for the justices “to rule on that serious and difficult question at this time.”
“The Governor might reinstate the restrictions,” Roberts wrote. “But he also might not.”
Roberts called it “a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials.”
According to WABC, Cuomo plans to double down on his nanny-state restrictions with a “Winter Plan,” including “zone factors, testing at school” and a “vaccine plan.”
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