Case on Churches, Cuomo and Coronavirus Arrives at Supreme Court

first_imgThe restrictions in Brooklyn are severe. In shifting “red zones,” where the coronavirus risk is highest, no more than 10 people may attend church services. In slightly less dangerous “orange zones,” attendance is capped at 25. This applies even in churches that can seat more than 1,000 people.The measures were prompted in large part by rising cases in Orthodox Jewish areas. But the restrictions applied to all houses of worship.Even as he ruled against the diocese, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn praised it as “an exemplar of community leadership” that had been “enforcing stricter safety protocols than the state required.”Lawyers for Mr. Cuomo agreed, telling an appeals court that the diocese “has introduced laudable social-distancing and hygiene measures.”The diocese has said it intends to continue to limit attendance to 25 percent of its churches’ capacities and would accept other limitations, such as doing away with singing by congregants and choirs.Judge Garaufis, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, said the case was a difficult one. But he concluded that he would defer to the governor. “If the court issues an injunction and the state is correct about the acuteness of the threat currently posed by hot spot neighborhoods,” the judge wrote, “the result could be avoidable death on a massive scale like New Yorkers experienced in the spring.”In refusing to block the governor’s order while the diocese’s appeal went forward, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit drew on Chief Justice Roberts’s concurring opinion in the California case. Since the restrictions on churches were less severe than those on comparable secular gatherings like theaters, casinos and gyms, the majority wrote in an unsigned opinion, they did not run afoul of constitutional protections for religious freedom. One view, expressed by Chief Justice Roberts in a concurring opinion in the California case, is that officials charged with protecting the public “should not be subject to second-guessing by an unelected federal judiciary, which lacks the background, competence and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.”A few hours after the diocese filed its application, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. delivered a slashing speech to a conservative legal group that expressed the opposite view. He had dissented in both of the earlier cases, and his speech echoed points he had made in the one from Nevada.“Whenever fundamental rights are restricted, the Supreme Court and other courts cannot close their eyes,” Justice Alito said on Thursday, rejecting the view that “whenever there is an emergency, executive officials have unlimited, unreviewable discretion.” The court is likely to rule on the dispute from Brooklyn in the next week or so. The case may be the first in which Justice Barrett’s vote changes the court’s direction. WASHINGTON — In recent months, churches in California and Nevada asked the Supreme Court to lift government restrictions on attendance at religious services meant to address the coronavirus pandemic. The churches lost.The vote in both cases was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining what was then the court’s four-member liberal wing. One of those liberals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died in September. Her successor, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, joined the court last month.- Advertisement – The members of the majority were Judge Raymond J. Lohier Jr., who was appointed by President Barack Obama, and Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who ordinarily sits on Federal District Court in Manhattan and who was appointed by Mr. Clinton.Judge Michael H. Park, who was appointed by President Trump, dissented. He said Governor Cuomo’s order discriminated against houses of worship because it allowed businesses like liquor stores and pet shops to remain open without capacity restrictions.In asking the Supreme Court to step in, lawyers for the diocese argued that its “spacious churches” were safer than many “secular businesses that can open without restrictions, such as pet stores and broker’s offices and banks and bodegas.” An hourlong Mass, the diocese’s brief said, is “shorter than many trips to a supermarket or big-box store, not to mention a 9-to-5 job.”Lawyers for Mr. Cuomo said gatherings like those at churches and theaters were different from shopping trips. “The state’s limits on mass gatherings have consistently recognized that the risk of transmitting Covid-19 is much greater at gatherings where people arrive and depart at the same time and congregate and mingle for a communal activity over an extended period of time,” the governor’s appeals court brief said.Judge Park, the dissenting appeals court judge, twice served as a law clerk to Justice Alito, once on the federal appeals court in Philadelphia and once on the Supreme Court. His dissent anticipated the remarks his former boss delivered on Thursday.“The pandemic,” Justice Alito said, “has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty.”“This is especially evident with respect to religious liberty,” he added. “It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.” – Advertisement – It will not take long to assess the significance of that switch.On Thursday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn filed an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to lift restrictions imposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York. The case is broadly similar to the earlier ones. The outcome, even as the pandemic is worsening, may be quite different.The general question in all of the cases is whether government officials or judges should calibrate responses to the public health crisis. – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

Region 2 dominate Day of Sports at Lake Mainstay

first_imgBy Elroy StephneyDESPITE unfavourable weather conditions, Region 2 successfully hosted its day of sports and interaction last Saturday, at Lake Mainstay on the Essequibo Coast.Among the disciplines which formed part of the day’s activities were 10/10 softball cricket, 5-a-side football and a king dominoes competition involving sister Regions 3 and 4.The day began with a formal opening ceremony which was addressed by the Regional Executive Officer Derrick Persaud who welcomed the participants as he expressed the Region’s commitment and pride in promoting good working relationships, sharing of ideas, building friendships among the regions and fostering unity as a whole.The 10/10 softball cricket competition then took centre stage as Region 2 and 3 played for a trophy in the final. Earlier Region 3 defeated a Masters XI from Region 2 by three wickets.Batting first, Masters XI scored 67-5 from 10 overs with Boodram Laldass striking 31 including 3x4s and 1×6.In reply, Region 3 despite an early setback rallied to 68-3, thanks to an unbeaten 37 (5×4, 1×6) from Graham Miggins who hammered 21 in the last over to gain a thrilling victory by 7 wickets for the visitors.In the final which was reduced to 6 overs because of time, Region 2 secured 65-5 with Anthony Persaud top-scoring with 27, laced with 2x6s and Gopaul Deen 16. Region 3 in response lost wickets regularly and were eventually reduced to 47-7 when the overs expired.Graham Miggins was again among the runs hitting 15. Leg-spinner Hemand Sonina was exceptional claiming a hat-trick to end with figures of 3-6 from his single over while Gopaul Deen took 2-8 from his one over as well, to cap a fine all-round display.In the other disciplines, Regional Accounting Unit, Region 2 won the 5-a-side football against their Drainage and Irrigation counterparts, 4-0.The 30-minute affair saw a hat-trick from captain Jermain Springer who scored in the 4th, 9th, and 17th minutes of the game. Completing the score line was Yattesh Wickham who found the net in the 28th minute to seal victory for the office boys.Meanwhile the king dominoes was won by Jason Fredericks who marked 12 games to be crowned King. At the presentation, trophies were presented to Region 2 as the winners of the cricket competition while Region 3 received the prize for the runners-up.Gopaul Deen of Region 2 was adjudged man-of-the-match in the final while Graham Wiggins of Region 3 collected the trophy for the batsman scoring the most runs in the final. Leg-spinner Hemant Sonina from Region 2 copped the prize for the bowler with the most wickets including a hat-trick.Trophies were also given to the RAU football team for winning the title while Jason Fredericks collected the trophies for winning the king dominoes competition and scoring the most sixes.Gracing the occasion were the Regional Chairman Devanand Ramdatt, Regional Vice-Chairman Nandranie Coonjah, Deputy Regional Executive Officer Roopkumar Persaud, Principal Personnel Officer Bibi Rameeza Mullah, Member of Parliament Hemraj Rajkumar, RDC Councillors, staff of the various participating regions and special invitees.The organisers have undertaken to make the event an annual one with Region 2 expected to pay a return visit to Regions 3 and 4 next year. The Regional Administration, Region 2 sponsored the day of activities.last_img read more