VIDEO Diocese of Brooklyn Takes ‘Religious Freedom’ Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

November 12, 2020 By Paula Katinas

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said restricting Mass attendance to just 10 people is tantamount to closing churches. (Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

WINDSOR TERRACE — The Diocese of Brooklyn is taking its fight against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s church attendance restrictions to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The diocese has filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, asking that the highest court in the land agree to hear the case on First Amendment grounds. The diocese charged that imposing strict attendance — in some cases, as little as 10 people at the Mass — violates religious freedom.

The emergency petition was submitted on Nov. 9 by Randy Mastro, the attorney representing the diocese, to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Click here to read the Brooklyn Diocese’s emergency petition to the US Supreme Court.

“We remain committed to reopening our churches, safely, and to vindicate our First Amendment rights. That is why we have petitioned the Supreme Court,” the diocese said in a statement. 

“We are confident we will prevail for the good of our churches and those of faith who want to operate safely yet continue to suffer under the Governor’s express restrictions on ‘houses of worship,’ ” the statement continues.

The diocese petitioned the Supreme Court following a legal setback in its lawsuit against the governor over the restrictions he imposed on Oct. 6 on houses of worship in New York neighborhoods with higher than average COVID-19 positivity rates. 

The diocese filed suit against Cuomo, in his official capacity as governor, on Oct. 8. On Nov. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the diocese’s appeal of earlier decisions by judges in Brooklyn Federal Court, who sided with Cuomo. The decision came a few days after the diocese presented its case at a hearing at the Court of Appeals on Nov. 3.

“The court fully understands the impact the executive order has had on houses of worship throughout the affected zones. Nevertheless, the Appellants cannot clear the high bar necessary to obtain an injunction pending appeal,” the decision read.

But the Court of Appeals’ decision rejecting the diocese was not unanimous. Two of the judges, Raymond J. Lohier and Jed S. Rakoff, on the three-judge panel, voted against the diocese. A third judge, Michael H. Park, dissented. The fact that the decision was not unanimous is giving officials a sense of hope in the case.

In the petition to Justice Breyer, Mastro and his co-counselors contend that the case deserves to be heard in the Supreme Court.

Click here to read the the ruling made by the US Court of Appeals.

“The governor’s latest restrictions cap church attendance at 10 and 25 people in so-called ‘red’ and ‘orange’ zones, respectively, regardless of the capacity of the ‘house of worship,’ and thereby effectively shutter all of the diocese’s churches in those zones. His Executive Order, moreover, expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ by that name for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses, and does so in a way that is not narrowly tailored to any compelling government interest, in direct violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause,” the petition reads in part.

In his Oct. 6 executive order, Cuomo created three zones — red, orange, and yellow. In red zones, churches and other religious institutions are limited to 25 percent capacity, with no more than 10 people. In orange zones, attendance at religious services is restricted to a maximum of 33 percent capacity with no more than 25 people. In yellow zones, 50 percent capacity is permitted.

Initially, there were more than two dozen churches in Brooklyn and Queens in the red and orange zones. As COVID-19 positivity rates decreased, Cuomo eased some of the restrictions.


Justice Alito criticizes COVID-19 restrictions and ‘rule by experts’

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticizes the left in speech given at the Federalist Society. Religious liberty and COVID-19 restrictions were some of the issues the Alito touched on.



Related

Supremes Turn Back Atheist’s Demands Again

Man has been seeking to remove mention of Almighty for decades

 

in_god_we_trust

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned back – again – a demand from an atheist who insists on removing any reference to “God” from the discourse of government.

There are references to a deity on money – the motto “In God We Trust” – and in the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as in other scenarios.

Michael Newdow, who has lost other, similar, cases at the high court already, was unsuccessful again when on Monday the justices declined to take up Newdow’s latest fight.

He was targeting the inscription “In God We Trust” on coins and currency.

The Washington Examiner reported Newdow, “an activist who filed the case on behalf of a group of atheists,” claimed that the instructions from Congress to the Treasury Department to include the words violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

That prevents Congress from setting up a national church.

The words first appeared on coins in 1864 and in 1955 Congress decided to have it on all coins and currency.

Newdow’s claim had stated that the government was turning atheists into “political outsiders” with the decision.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had similarly rejected his claim last year.

Besides “In God We Trust,” and “Under God” in the Pledge, he’s also demanded that high government officials such as Supreme Court justices and presidents be censored from stating “So help me God,” when they affirm an oath to uphold the Constitution.

WND has reported on his fight against references to “God” for nearly two decades.

When the 6th Circuit threw out his case last year, it ruled the motto doesn’t burden atheists’ free exercise, nor does it impact their free pssech.

“The court ruled that the national motto is a symbol of common national identity and did not discriminate against or suppress plaintiffs’ beliefs,” the American Center for Law and Justice said at that time.

The court had said, “Because plaintiffs do not allege that the motto is attributed to them and because the Supreme Court has reasoned that currency is not ‘readily associated with’ its temporary carrier, the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs’ Free Speech claim.”

Newdow’s claim was that “the mere presence of the national motto on currency violates their Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause rights. The atheists asserted that carrying currency equated to governmental compulsion to speak in support of the national motto and to bear a ‘religiously offensive’ message, in violation of the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

“Every court that has considered any challenge to the national motto has rejected it. When we filed our amicus brief, we let the court know we were representing over 315,000 supporters who signed on to our Committee to Defend ‘In God We Trust’ – Our National Motto – on Our Currency,” ACLJ said.

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/supremes-turn-back-atheists-demands-again/

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