The Second Circuit Court of Appeals just issued a ruling declaring that Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order restricting attendance at houses of worship “discriminates against religion on its face.”
The United States Supreme had previously issued an injunction against the 10 and 25 person limitations imposed by Cuomo, pending the Agudah’s appeal. On December 18 — the last day of Chanukah – the Agudah’s appeal was heard by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The case challenged not only the 10 and 25 person limits but also the 25% and 33% capacity limitations as well.
In a first-in-the-nation decision, the Court held that the 25% and 33% limitations on attendance at houses of worship are subject to strict scrutiny. The Court held that the Supreme Court’s injunction opinion “addressed only the fixed capacity limits, but the same reasoning applies to the Order’s percentage capacity limits, which by their own terms impose stringent requirements only on houses of worship. One could easily substitute the percentage capacity limits for the fixed capacity limits into the Supreme Court’s discussion of strict scrutiny without altering the analysis. Thus, both the fixed capacity and percentage capacity limits on houses of worship are subject to strict scrutiny.”
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