The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a pair of cases to ban Gov. Cuomo from enforcing his October 6 "Cluster Initiative" against houses of worship that sued to challenge the restrictions.
The court on a 5-4 vote granted requests made by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish congregations.
The court noted that: "Even in a pandemic, the Constitution can not be put away and forgotten".
Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish organization with synagogues affected by the restrictions, also sued.
The houses of worship say that the limits violated religious freedoms protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment, and that their facilities were singled out for more stringent restrictions than essential businesses, such as food stores.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett
Citing that change, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court's three liberals said there was no reason to grant the emergency appeals now. The state has set forward additional restrictions for churches in communities that fall into Orange or Red categories.
The Diocese of Brooklyn, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, argued houses of worship were being unfairly singled out by the governor's executive order. NY had argued that religious gatherings were being treated less restrictively than secular gatherings that carried the same infection risk, like concerts and theatrical performances. "I fully respect religion and if there's a time in life when we need it, the time is now".
"The applicants point out that the State might reimpose the red or orange zone restrictions in the future".
In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch went after Cuomo over what he argued was the arbitrarily selective nature of the restrictions. They also enforced rules requiring masks and social distancing.
Lawyers for the state disputed these claims and said the governor's order treats worship services "more favorably" than other similar nonreligious gatherings. That said, a recurring monthly pledge of any amount through Patreon can help us deliver more content, and more in-depth coverage throughout the region. "They are only allowed to have 100 people, by the laws of the District of Columbia". Justice Gorsuch took aim directly at Governor Cuomo, calling him out for inconsistent regulations. Two days later, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. spoke to the annual Federalist Society convention and endorsed the legal claims put forth by the Catholic archdiocese. The justices previously refused to lift restrictions on churches in California and Nevada. In those previous cases Ginsburg had ruled in favor of restrictions meant to protect public health.