New York Covid-19 orders unfairly targeted houses of worship, federal judge rules |
Fox News – A federal judge said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio “exceeded” their executive limits by limiting worship services and condoning mass protests as the state continues to reopen from coronavirus restrictions.
U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe issued a preliminary injunction Friday on behalf of two Catholic priests — Steven Soos and Nicholas Stamos — and a trio of Orthodox Jewish congregants — Elchanan Perr, Daniel Schonborn, and Mayer Mayerfeld — in Brooklyn, represented by the Thomas More Society.
They filed the suit in the Northern District of New York after mass protests and looting occurred in the Big Apple following George Floyd’s police-related death in May.
De Blasio had “simultaneous pro-protest/anti-religious gathering messages” when he “actively encouraged participation in protests and openly discouraged religious gatherings and threatened religious worshipers,” Sharpe said in his federal order.
The judge added:
“Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio could have just as easily discouraged protests, short of condemning their message, in the name of public health and exercised discretion to suspend enforcement for public safety reasons instead of encouraging what they knew was a flagrant disregard of the outdoor limits and social distancing rules.
“They could have also been silent. But by acting as they did, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.”
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara celebrated the decision and called Cuomo’s executive orders a “sham” that “went right out the window as soon as he and Mayor de Blasio saw a mass protest movement they favored taking to the streets by the thousands.”
Ferrara said in a statement to Fox News.
“Suddenly, the limit on ‘mass gatherings’ was no longer necessary to ‘save lives. Yet they were continuing to ban high school graduations and other outdoor gatherings exceeding a mere 25 people … ” Read more.