On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court blocked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to restrict attendance at churches and places of worship as part of his COVID “Cluster Initiative.”
The court voted 5-4 to bar restrictions on attendance with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissenting. Roberts states that “it is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic.”
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, however, argues that limits imposed on churches don’t make Constitutional sense when compared to activities that aren’t being impacted by rulings by Cuomo.
“It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, 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 Gorsuch writes.
Cuomo’s color-coded “Cluster Initiative” zones of enforcement were aimed at synagogues and Roman Catholic churches, according to Bloomberg News. Houses of worship in hardest hit zones were limited to 25% of capacity or 10 people, whichever was fewer.
“So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” Gorsuch writes.