RULED: Restrictions on religious gatherings will no longer be enforced
In light of a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Orthodox Jewish and Roman Catholic advocates, New York state capacity restrictions on religious gatherings will no longer be enforced. With the governor’s blessing, a Brooklyn federal judge ordered a permanent injunction Tuesday to end New York’s Covid-19 pandemic-related capacity limits for Orthodox Jewish synagogues. Signed by U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, the 5-page order cites assurances from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lawyers that houses of worship will be removed from Cuomo’s executive order by the end of February
Full text: Court House News
RULED: Freedom of religion upheld under Constitution
Supreme Court rules California churches may open despite the pandemic. The Supreme Court has lifted California’s ban on indoor church services during the pandemic, ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strict orders appear to violate the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion. But the high court said the state may limit attendance at indoor services to 25% of the building’s capacity, and singing and chanting may be restricted as well. California has enforced “the most extreme restriction on worship in the country,” the court was told by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. While several states set limits on attendance at church services, the group said, California is “the only state to ban indoor worship” in all but sparsely populated counties.
Full text: latimes.com News
RULED: Ohio Restaurateur Wins Court Claim to Insurance ‘Business Interruption Coverage’
A federal court has ruled that a multi-concept restaurant group based in Ohio has a legitimate claim on its business interruption insurer for sales lost while operations were shut down during the pandemic. The court decided that a microorganism exemption may not hold, and that physical damage need not be sustained.
Full text: restaurantbusinessonline.com
RULED: Gym’s can open at 100% capacity – right to normalcy
New York State Supreme Court judge granted a preliminary injunction and allowed Athletes Unleashed gym open at 100% capacity, despite orders from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo limiting gyms in “orange zones” to 25% capacity. The Supreme Court judge said that while not meant to diminish the COVID-19 pandemic, his ruling rather respected a "right to normalcy”. The lawsuit also claims that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has overstepped the authority granted to him during the pandemic. December 23rd ruling did not address these claims. The judge will hear further arguments in February on Cuomo’s legal authority to issue “any directive that lasts longer than 30 days” without approval of state legislators.
Full text: Spectrumlocalnews.com
Both USA States have challenged their emergency orders. “The State and Federal public health system have misled the public, politicians, and even the Courts. If they have ANY integrity, they will recognize the truth and accept our requests for injunctive relief.”
Legal teams from Ohio and New Mexico will be filing a third action against the HHS, CDC, and NCHS for intentionally misleading the public regarding the dangers of COVID-19.
Full text: Makeamericansfreeagain.com
RULED: Injunction issued overturning ban for outdoor dining at restaurants
A Los Angeles judge issued an injunction overturning L.A. County's ban on outdoor dining at restaurants. Judge Chalfant had little sympathy for the county's arguments and sided with the California Restaurant Association. The judge said the county's arguments about being unable to confirm a link between outdoor dining and coronavirus might have flown early in the pandemic but not anymore: "I am shocked that in nine months, [government officials] have not looked seriously at outdoor dining, I am not laying this at the county's feet but that is a failure of government”. Further stated "I think one of the problems with the pandemic is that government agencies, including the media, are driving the fear. And the evidence shows that healthy Americans need not fear... The average healthy American is not seriously at risk here of dying."
Full text: laist.com news article
RULED: Right to religion guaranteed by the First Amendment
The Supreme Court granted requests from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish synagogues to block enforcement of a New York executive order restricting attendance at houses of worship. Both the diocese and the synagogues claimed that the executive order violated the right to the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment, particularly when secular businesses in the area are allowed to remain open. The court explained that Cuomo’s order does not appear to be neutral, but instead “single[s] out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment”. For example, although a synagogue or a church in a red zone is limited to 10 people at a service, there are no limits on how many people a nearby “essential” business – which can include acupuncture or a camp ground – can admit. Because the Cuomo order is not neutral, the court continued, it is subject to the most stringent constitutional test, known as strict scrutiny. It fails that test, the court concluded, because the order is too broad. There is no evidence that these synagogues and churches have contributed to outbreaks, and other, less restrictive rules could have been employed instead – such as basing the maximum attendance on the size of the facility. And if the restrictions are enforced, the court added, they will result in permanent harm to people who cannot attend and for whom a livestream of services is not an adequate substitute.
Full text: Supreme Court of the United States
RULED: Constitution does not permit any public official unlawfully to restrict liberties
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, and U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge issued the following statements: “The United States Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to every state in our free country. The Constitution does not permit any public official unlawfully to restrict our liberty. All public officials must respect the right of the people to govern themselves at all times, especially during a crisis. (…) While the Governor has had the public’s health interests at heart, this decision underscores the importance of a legislature to the legitimacy of restrictions on liberty. I urge the Governor and Michigan legislators to work together going forward in responding to this pandemic so that we stay safe and free.”
Full text: The United States Department of Justice
RULED: Key aspects of emergency order deemed unconstitutional
In County of Butler v. Wolf, a federal court in Pennsylvania struck down as unconstitutional key aspects of the Pennsylvania Governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Order: limitations on the size of indoor gatherings and the closure of all businesses that are not life sustaining. The court held that the temporary closure of certain “non-life-sustaining” businesses violated plaintiffs’ substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment because it was too broad and harsh to pass constitutional muster, and violated the right to choose one’s profession. Furthermore, the court held that the closure of certain “non-life-sustaining” businesses also violated plaintiffs’ equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, finding no rational basis for the regulations because some businesses were treated differently than other, similar businesses. The court illustrated its reasoning with an example that imposing constraints on a “mom-and-pop” hardware store while allowing Walmart to sell the same products would not keep a consumer at home; it would simply send her to Walmart, doing nothing to protect her or others from COVID. As a result, the court found that the restrictions’ means did not rationally relate to their ends.
Full text: JDSUPRA Legal News