Federal court permanently blocks NY restrictions on houses of worship

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A US federal court has permanently blocked New York’s highly contested COVID-19 restrictions on indoor worship, the Christian Post reports. Tuesday’s ruling by District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto follows a temporary block on the restrictions that were issued by the US Supreme Court in November.

The ruling Judge Matsumoto permanently blocks New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.68 which included limiting worship gatherings to 25% capacity or maximum of 10-people, and 33% capacity or maximum of 25-people, respectively in red and orange zones.

Issued last October, Cuomo extended his executive order five times without modifying restrictions on houses of worship.

The restrictions were contested by faith groups, including Agudath Israel of America and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Christian Post reports. The plaintiffs said the restrictions were a violation of their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

In her ruling Tuesday, Matsumoto cited the US Supreme Court’s finding that the restrictions were likely not “neutral” or “generally applicable” because “essential” businesses and certain “non-essential” businesses were not subject to the same restrictions, and that the fixed person capacity limits must satisfy “strict scrutiny.”

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