Supreme Court’s Cuomo Rebuke Has Nationwide Ripple Effect – By Kevin Daley (Free Beacon) / Dec 16 2020
Decision marks a turning point in COVID restrictions on worship
Fallout from the Supreme Court’s Thanksgiving decision blocking New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D.) worship restrictions is spreading nationwide, as the justices tee up similar orders in other blue states for a legal reckoning.
The High Court since Dec. 3 has invoked the Cuomo ruling to erase decisions favoring public health authorities over the faithful in California, Colorado, and New Jersey. In each case, the justices told a lower court to have a second look at the contested rules, then follow their lead in the New York case.
Cuomo’s church-capacity limits were a dramatic turning point for legal challenges to pandemic policies. The order looked especially vulnerable to a lawsuit since Cuomo had publicly singled out Orthodox Jews after a spike in transmission. An initial version of his order did not include criteria for triggering restrictions, feeding perceptions that the governor was targeting the Orthodox. Those weaknesses made the case an ideal vehicle for the Court’s emboldened conservative wing to set a new course for constitutional challenges to public health guidelines.
Some lower courts recognized as much without prodding from the justices.