Political News

Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn takes on Andrew Cuomo at the Supreme Court

Posted November 12, 2020 3:30 p.m. EST

— The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is asking the US Supreme Court to block New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order that limits the number of people who can attend worship services because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The filing is the latest pitting religious groups against city and state officials seeking to stop the spread of Covid-19 and could highlight the impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the court.

So far, the court has been closely divided on the issue regarding in-person attendance at church services. In a 5-4 decision last May, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberals to side with state officials in a similar dispute out of California. Since then, however, Barrett, who could be the deciding vote in the new petition, has replaced liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

A district court said the diocese had been "ahead of the curve" enforcing safety procedures but declined to block the order.

The diocese charges that the October 6 executive order allows 10 to 25 people in some zones in the building regardless of the capacity of the house of worship, but allows many secular businesses to operate without restrictions.

"In short, the pandemic alone cannot justify overbroad, untailored closure orders of indefinite duration directed at all houses of worship, that in another time would plainly be found to violate the Constitution," lawyers for the diocese told the justices.

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