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Orthodox Jews Call on Supreme Court as Gov. Cuomo Targets Religious Freedom

A group of Orthodox Jewish organizations on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions.

The Jewish organizations requested emergency relief from Cuomo’s mandates, accusing the Democratic governor of having the “‘discriminatory object’ of targeting Orthodox practices.”

The group asked the Supreme Court to consider whether an executive order issued by Cuomo violates the First Amendment when it “disfavors worship” and targets “a religious minority’s practices and traditions.”

“The Governor made overwhelmingly clear that his [executive order] was designed to target a particular religious minority that he falsely blames for the spread of COVID-19 — Orthodox Jews,” the injunction request said.

“The Governor did not attack religious belief generally, but singled out a particular religion for blame and retribution for an uptick in a society-wide pandemic,” it continued.

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“He threatened ‘members of the ultra-Orthodox community’ and referred to them as a ‘problem,’ due to his own perceptions of the community.”

New York’s current coronavirus restrictions prohibit more than 10 people from gathering in places of worship in “red zones,” regions where the state has identified the risk of the virus to be the highest.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn filed an emergency injunction against the same executive order on Thursday, writing that Cuomo’s order “expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ … for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses … in direct violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.”

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