Saturday, October 17, 2020

New York's Zip-Code Targeted COVID-19 Limits Are Upheld

In Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York v. Cuomo, (ED NY, Oct. 16, 2020), a New York federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to the Diocese in its challenge to New York's COVID-19 cluster action initiative that targets specific zip codes. A TRO had previously been denied. (See prior posting.) Rejecting plaintiff's arguments, the court said in part:

[T]he excerpts from the Governor's public comments do not transform a neutral law into a religiously targeted one. The evidence shows that Governor Cuomo is clearly aware and concerned that EO 202.68 burdens religious practice, and particularly the religious practice of Orthodox Jews, but awareness that the burden of a law falls unequally does not establish that the law was designed to target religious groups. Indeed, as the Governor reportedly told a group of Jewish community leaders, although the policy is a "very blunt" instrument, its purpose is to "get the numbers down in the zip codes." ... The court reads the Governor's statement to say that EO 202.68 is targeted temporarily at all gatherings in the areas where there are spikes in COVID-19 positivity rates, not at religious gatherings in particular.