Supreme Court Enjoins New York Restrictions on Religious Worship in Historic Decision

By Woody Jenkins, Editor, Central City News • WASHINGTON • November 25, 2020 • Victory for Religious Liberty — The United States Supreme Court has enjoined enforcement of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency orders which purport to limit the size of worship services by churches and synagogues in areas he considers “hot zones” for the China virus.  In a per curium opinion, the five conservative members of the court joined in the decision, while Chief Justice John Roberts would not have granted an injunction because he believes Cuomo’s changing rules are moot.  The three liberal members of the court dissented.

Earlier this year, a somewhat different court allowed some restrictions on worship services in California.  However, a concurring opinion today by Associate Justice Neal Gorsuch said that a majority of the court is making it plain that that case South Bay Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, has no further significance and “courts must resume applying the Free Exercise Clause” of the First Amendment.

Gorsuch also said the decision today also severely limits the decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), saying, “That decision involved an entirely different mode of analysis, an entirely different right, and an entirely different kind of restriction.”  While the decision was limited in that it only granted an injunction and is not a final determination of the issue, the language in the decision makes a strong, clear statement that a majority of the court is no longer willing accept infringements on religious liberty based on the pandemic.

To read the entire opinion, click here:

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