Brooklyn diocese cheers ruling barring Cuomo’s houses of worship limits

Brooklyn diocese cheers ruling barring Cuomo's houses of worship limits

The Diocese of Brooklyn on Thursday cheered the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s capacity limits at houses of worship in COVID-19 hotspots.

“I am gratified by the decision of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, who have recognized the clear First Amendment violation and urgent need for relief in this case,” said Nicholas DiMarzio, the Bishop of Brooklyn. “I am proud to be leading the Diocese of Brooklyn and fighting for our sacred and constitutional right to worship.”

In a ruling late Wednesday night, the highest court in the land sided with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, saying in a 5-4 decision that Cuomo’s cap was a constitutional violation.

Both religious institutions, which have churches and synagogues in Brooklyn and Queens — then designated red and orange zones, sued in October when Cuomo imposed attendance caps at 10 to 25 people, respectively. They argued that the restrictions violated their religious freedoms under the First Amendment.

In his statement Thursday, DiMarzio blasted the safety precautions as “an overreach that did not take into account the size of our churches or the safety protocols that have kept parishioners safe.”

“Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens have adhered to all COVID-19 safety protocols to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist,” he said. “Our churches have not been the cause of any outbreaks. We have taken our legal battle this far because we should be considered essential, for what could be more essential than safely gathering in prayer in a time of pandemic.”

The Supreme Court — which split 5-4, with conservative justices, including new Justice Amy Coney Barrett, in the majority — temporarily prohibits Cuomo from enforcing the rule while their lawsuits continue.

The St. Sanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The St. Sanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.Getty Images

They wrote that the restrictions “single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.”

But the impact of their decision is somewhat moot — the institutions are no longer subject to the restrictions since they are now in less-restrictive yellow zones.

“Now, with the benefit of the Supreme Court’s ruling, we look forward to continuing the fight in the lower courts to ensure that these unconstitutional restrictions are permanently enjoined once and for all,” DiMarzio added.

With Post wires