the us supreme court has a sculpture group by artist hermon a. macneil representing great lawgivers. one of these marble figures is moses. after the recent supreme court decision, perhaps moses’ marble sculpture should be giving a thumbs up or a fist pump to the 5 brave justices who, like him, fought for religious liberty.
on november 25, 2020, in roman catholic diocese of brooklyn, new york vs. andrew cuomo, governor of new york, on application for injunctive relief, the court took action to protect religious institutions in the state of ny.
in the decision, there were certain facts that were raised. the state of ny created certain color zones based upon levels of covid-19 infection rates. there were red zones and orange zones. according to the decision, “in red zones, no more than 10 persons may attend each religious service, and in orange zones, attendance is capped at 25.” note: there are many churches and synagogues that have large capacities. thus, 10 to 25 people on its face makes no sense. if social distancing is the issue, then calculations of the size and dimensions of the facilities should be used as a determining factor as to the amount of attendees.
the religious institutions also claimed and the court reported that “[a]nd they tell us without contradiction that they have complied with all public health guidance, have
implemented additional precautionary measures, and have operated at 25% or 33% capacity for months without a single outbreak.”
in the decision, it was noted that “the governor has stated that factories and
schools have contributed to the spread of covid–19, id., exh. h, at 3; app. to application in no. 20A90, pp. 98, 100, but they are treated less harshly than the diocese’s
churches and agudath israel’s synagogues, which have admirable safety records.”
thus, there is an argument for disparate treatment.
the supreme court opinion, in deciding in favor diocese and agudath israel, stated that “even in a pandemic, the constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. the restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the first amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
religious liberty is a biblical concept. in exodus 5:1, in moses’ first encounter with the pharoah as god’s representative, it is stated, “moses and aaron came and said to pharaoh, “so said the lord god of israel, ‘send out my people, and let them sacrifice to me in the desert.’ ”
on an aside, it is important to note that the aclu was not a participant to the agudath suit. also, the aclu was not a participant to the diocese suit. thus, an organization which calls itself to be the american civil liberties union did not participate in this lawsuit. the aclu website states “[t]he aclu vigorously defends the rights of all americans, from christians to members of minority faiths, to practice their religion.” aclu in light of their failure to participate in these lawsuits, are they misrepresenting themselves to the public?
in sum, we can all have a wonderful thanksgiving knowing that our constitution still guarantees our religious liberties. thanks to the supreme court, pharoah cuomo is taught a lesson in respecting the right of individuals the practice their religion.