November 29, 2020

SCOTUS Stops New York's Restrictions on Religious Gatherings

  • Flyover Country

By: Amy Jo Underwood

In Brief:

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled New York’s Covid-19 restrictions on religious gatherings, with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett casting the deciding vote. 

The Background:

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Wednesday to block restrictions on religious services in New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal judges. Newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the conservative judges in removing the restrictions on religious liberty. 

According to Newsweek, Governor Andrew Cuomo accused the Court of acting politically, stating that this decision was a way for the Court to exercise its political philosophy as a majority conservative Court. Religious leaders across the country have celebrated the relief from government interference in their faith practices, however, and have released statements praising the Supreme Court for its action. 

While Governor Cuomo stated that he had planned to lift the ban on exceeding a certain limit on attendance at religious gatherings, the Court declared that all states must be on their guard from interfering in the free exercise of religion. In their opinion, the five majority justices stated, “We should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area. 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 1st Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”

Notable Quotes:

“A major win for any American who cherishes our religious liberty. Andrew Cuomo and Democrat elected officials have acted as totalitarians, using COVID19 to strip the people of NY of their fundamental right to worship. Today, the Court said enough is enough.” - Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)


Amy Jo Underwood writes from Alabama

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