Permanent Injunction Issued Guaranteeing Free Exercise of Religious Worship in New York State

In the culmination of a months-long legal battle between Agudath Israel of America and the Governor of New York over the state’s restrictions on houses of worship, a federal District Court has now issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of all houses of worship specific limitations.

The District Court ruling in Agudath Israel v. Cuomo cemented and expanded upon previous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and prohibits the state from enforcing both the fixed numeric limits and the percentage of capacity limits in orange and red zones, as contained in the Governor’s Executive Order. Both such limits do not exist in similarly situated places of business.

The Governor did not contest Agudath Israel’s motion for a permanent injunction, and has committed to formally amend the contested Executive Order before the end of the month.

Commented Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel,
“We wish we wouldn’t have had to go to court. But we had no choice, as Agudath Israel vigorously opposes any action which jeopardizes individuals’ first amendment rights to freely exercise religion, or which restricts religious practices differently than other activities. Religious freedom is the bedrock and touchstone on which this nation was founded.

“At the same time, we forcefully reiterate our call for ongoing care and prudence – in all activities – in light of COVID-19.”

See Agudah’s collection of guidance documents and health initiatives, issued since early March 2020, here, and most recently, timely guidance for festively, but safely, celebrating Purim, here.