U.S. Court of Appeals to Hear Arguments in Diocese of Brooklyn Religious Liberty Case

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Currents News Staff

Arguments in the case are scheduled to be heard Friday, Dec. 18 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, after the Supreme Court issued an injection against Gov. Cuomo’s 10 and 25-person occupancy limits pending the state’s appeal of the decision. 

Currents News spoke with Marc DeGirolami from St. John’s University School of Law about the case. 

The limitations on worship that were put in place by the gov. were significantly harsh by comparison with other activities,” he said. 

In his response to the Supreme Court injunction on his executive order, Gov. Cuomo downplayed the significance of the decision.

“It is just an opportunity for the court to express its philosophy and politics,” he said. 

Professor DeGirolami disagreed with the Governor’s assessment, and even cited two dissenting Justices that disprove Cuomo’s claim.

There you have two dissenting justices that are taking a hard look at Cuomo’s order and are saying no no no there really are differences between what Cuomo has done here and what other Governors have done around the country,” he said.

But Msgr. Kieran Harrington, the rector at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral who is also in charge of communications for the Brooklyn Diocese, understands that though Mass may look a bit different, it is every bit as essential to the health of the faithful as other, less regulated public gatherings.

While we have to take every precaution we can to ensure people are safe, we also have to recognize that people’s faith is important to them,” he told Currents News. 

Church leaders believe that the Court of Appeals will uphold the Supreme Court decision.

“We do believe that the courts will rule in our favor,” explained Msgr. Harrington. 

He  is not alone in thinking that religious liberty will be upheld in the judiciary. There are at least 20 legal challenges from religious organizations against state-imposed attendance limits being argued all across the country. 

Even in our nation’s capital, the Archdiocese of Washington has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s strict limits.  On Nov. 25, cases in New Jersey and Nevada were both decided in favor of religious liberty.

 As the lower court hears arguments this week four and against Gov. Cuomo’s order, it won’t be just religious leaders in New York who will be paying close attention. Governors and legislators across the country —  who have sometimes handed down arbitrary attendance limits on religious services of their own —  may find themselves on the wrong side of the Constitution.