New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has suffered another blow in his efforts to place severe restrictions on religious gatherings.
On Monday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously upheld a Supreme Court injunction that blocked the Democrat strongman from imposing his dictatorial whims on houses of worship that are constitutionally protected.
Of all the Democrat governors who have run roughshod over the Constitution using the coronavirus as an excuse, few have demonstrated the delight in ruling with an iron fist as much as Cuomo who has conducted himself like a movie mafia boss and scored an international Emmy for his press briefings.
Cuomo has particularly reveled in going after religious entities, especially synagogues, and like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, appears to have a serious problem with those of the Jewish religion.
In a serious judicial smackdown of Cuomo, Judge Michael Park delivered his opinion:
“No public interest is served by maintaining an unconstitutional policy when constitutional alternatives are available to achieve the same goal,”
“The restrictions challenged here specially and disproportionately burden religious exercise, and thus ’strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.’ Such a direct and severe constitutional violation weighs heavily in favor of granting injunctive relief.”
The federal appeals court in Manhattan on Monday blocked New York state restrictions on the size of religious gatherings put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
In a 3-0 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America and two synagogues in enjoining New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Oct. 6 attendance caps at “houses of worship.”
The governor limited attendance to the lesser of 10 people or 25% capacity in “red” zones where the coronavirus risk was highest, and 25 people or 33% capacity in slightly less risky “orange” zones, even in buildings that seat hundreds.
Circuit Judge Michael Park said the plaintiffs established irreparable harm by showing the restrictions impaired their free exercise of religion.
He also said “no public interest is served by maintaining an unconstitutional policy when constitutional alternatives are available to achieve the same goal.”
Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Monday’s decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on Nov. 25 against enforcing the caps.
In the November SCOTUS ruling, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch blistered the governor:
“It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques”
The combative Cuomo clapped back, blasting the nation’s highest court as irrelevant.
Monday’s decision was a kick in the gut for Cuomo who only recently was on the shortlist for attorney general in a Biden administration but allegations of sexual harassment as well as his pushing the envelope to exercise dictatorial power over New Yorkers may have dashed his hopes.
With the lack of pushback from the Justice Department on the revocation of civil liberties by power-crazed Democrats, it is going to be up to the courts to save the Constitution.