U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York COVID Restriction
Amy Coney Barrett's vote ended up being the deciding factor.
Around midnight on Thanksgiving, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4, ruling against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 restrictions on the number of people who can attend a religious service in New York State.
Under Cuomo's COVID-19 Micro-Cluster strategy. houses of worship are capped at 50 percent capacity in a Yellow Zone, 33 percent capacity, up to 25 people, in Orange Zones and 25 percent capacity, up to 10 people, in a Red Zone.
Cuomo told CBS on Thursday the Supreme Court's ruling isn't final, adding there won't be any changes to current restrictions.
“I’m a former altar boy, Catholic. So I fully respect religion. There’s a time in life we need it. The time is now, but we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time, and that’s the balance we’re trying to hit,” Cuomo told CBS.
Cuomo's lawyers argued the restrictions are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, adding religious institutions weren't being treated differently than other businesses.
"Not only is there no evidence that the applicants have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 but there are many other less restrictive rules that could be adopted to minimize the risk to those attending religious services," the Supreme Court said. "Members of this Court are not public health experts, and 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."
Newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett was the deciding vote. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in voting in favor of Cuomo's rule.
The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 against houses of worship in similar cases in Nevada and California, prior to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, CNN reports.