New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, guilty of treating religious activities “less favourably than comparable secular activities” according to federal judge    (Picture from Diana Robinson/Wikipedia)

International News by Andrew Halloway

After a group of Jews and Catholics took New York to court over coronavirus restrictions, the federal judge ruled the city’s leaders had unfairly targeted worshippers.

District Judge Gary L Sharpe said that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James and City Mayor Bill de Blasio “exceeded” their powers by limiting worship services to a 25 per cent capacity rule, while limiting other gatherings to 50 per cent and condoning the gathering of thousands at Black Lives Matter protests.

“An irrational targeting of houses of worship”

Two Society of St Pius X priests and three Orthodox Jews, represented by the Thomas More Society, filed a suit against New York after the protests. In his judgement on 26 June, Judge Sharpe said 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 worshippers”. Christopher Ferrara, attorney for the plaintiffs, called the unequal restrictions “an irrational targeting of houses of worship”.

The Department of Justice called the decision “a win for religious freedom and the civil liberties of New Yorkers”.