A former Obama White House employee rejected the Supreme Court’s decision to block New York from enforcing occupation rules for churches amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, called the 5-4 ruling “illegitimate,” adding that the ruling would put “more lives in danger.”
The court issued an injunction on Wednesday night, restricting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo from enforcing a 10- and 25-person occupancy limit on religious services. The request was brought forth by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel.
The unsigned majority opinion said the restrictions would violate religious freedom and weren’t neutral since they “single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment,” according to NBC News.
Chief Justice John Roberts, along with the three liberal-leaning Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer, dissented. Sotomayor and Kagan argued that granting the injunction “will only exacerbate the nation’s suffering.”
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh filed concurrences, but neither Amy Coney Barrett nor Samuel Alito filed separate opinions.
New York officials argued there was no need to take action on the request since the state already scaled back its restrictions.
Cuomo said the case will go back to a lower court, but he wasn’t upset about the ruling since it wouldn’t affect the state’s rules much.
“The decision isn’t final. Second, it didn’t affect our mass gathering rules. So, it didn’t mention those. It didn’t mention the overall limits,” said Cuomo, who questioned why the court ruled “on an issue that is moot?”
Roberts agreed with Cuomo’s sentiment, saying he didn’t see a need to take action because of the state’s scale-back. Breyer said if the state wants to reimpose the limits, the plaintiffs can return to the court.
The ruling was praised by President Trump in a tweet, who shared the ruling, adding “HAPPY THANKSGIVING!”