A New York judge has issued a stern rebuke of New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo, who the judge says imposed overreaching restrictions on people of faith amid the coronavirus pandemic which violated the First Amendment.
Judge Gary Sharpe, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins writes for LifeSiteNews, denounced Cuomo’s selective application of the Constitution, which he says is not a document of “freedom for me, but not for thee.”
Over the last three months, Perkins notes, “churches and other houses of worship have watched as local leaders–not just in New York, but all over the country–have tried to put the screws to congregations in the name of virus prevention.”
After weeks of unequal treatment, the George Floyd protests seemed to be the final straw. At the request of two priests and three Jewish practitioners, Thomas More Society took [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to court, where the disparity was embarrassingly obvious.
When the injunction was announced, special counsel Chris Ferrara was pleased to see the court “see through the sham of Governor Cuomo’s ‘Social Distancing Protocol.’” On “Washington Watch,” Friday, he could only shake his head at the left.
New York leaders “[were] approving mass protests over the death of George Floyd, which is classic First Amendment protected activity. People have the right to do that… There were also Juneteenth celebrations in the thousands. All of this is classic First Amendment activity. The only problem is it contradicts the entire regime of social distancing, which they claimed was necessary to save lives. Well, nothing is [riskier] in terms of spreading a virus than 5,000 people or 10,000 people marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, which they have no problem with. So the double standard basically dealt a death blow to their social distancing regime, both outdoors and indoors.”
While Cuomo and de Blasio only seemed determined to prevent gatherings they disliked, “namely religious gatherings and others to 10 people in the lower half of the state,” he said.
While the Democrat leaders in New York portrayed less-than-disapproving attitudes towards thousands-strong marches, de Blasio sent the NYPD to respond to large crowds of Hasidic Jewish men mourning the passing of a rabbi and remove Hasidic children from a local park.
“The disparity was just intolerable. We just saw that this was a double standard that could not be sustained under constitutional scrutiny,” Ferrara said.
Sharpe, in his decision, explicitly addressed this blatant unfairness.
“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,” he said. “But by acting as they did, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.”
The judge also noted that, aside from the George Floyd protests, offices, shops, salons, and restaurants are all allowed to open at 50% capacity indoors and all “involve the congregation of people for a length of time.”
“These secular businesses/activities threaten defendants’ interest in slowing the spread of COVID-19 to a similar or greater degree than those of plaintiffs’ and demonstrate that the 25 percent indoor capacity limitation on houses of worship is underinclusive and triggers strict scrutiny review.”
As Ferrera explained, “people should be treated equally regardless of the purpose of their gatherings. You cannot cabin religion in a 25 percent indoor occupancy category… There’s no basis for it other than anecdotes and superstitions about how houses of worship are somehow viral danger zones, unlike supermarkets, bagel stores, offices and even restaurants.”
This shows a very skewed sense of priorities in the Empire State and across the nation where other states’ governments are demonstrating the same double-standard application of the First Amendment.
“Let’s hope other states, where this liberal hypocrisy is running rampant, take note. Their rules aren’t just arbitrary–they’re unconstitutional!” Perkins concludes.