The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit prevented the enforcement of an executive order that imposed limitations on religious gatherings, which in some “hot spots” had been capped at 10 or 25 persons depending on the local infection rate.
In “red zone” hot spots, Cuomo required all nonessential businesses to reduce the in-person workforce by 100%, and restaurants were relegated to takeout and delivery services only. Houses of worship were limited to 10 people, or 25% capacity, whichever is fewer.
The plaintiffs argued that the restrictions infringed on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
The court agreed with the argument that the order placed greater restrictions on religious gatherings than secular ones.
The lawsuit was filed by several religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America.
New York’s Orthodox Jewish community has protested Cuomo’s restrictions on religious gatherings. Some of these communities have experienced higher infection rates and therefore have seen restrictions tighten.