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United States Supreme Court Hands Down Religious Rights Victory for New Jersey Priest and Rabbi

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC,  the United States Supreme Court handed down what attorneys from the Thomas More Society are calling “a huge victory for religious freedom.” The case, pitting a New Jersey Catholic priest and Orthodox Jewish rabbi against Governor Philip Murphy’s COVID-19-related executive orders restricting houses of worship to 25% of capacity while secular businesses and schools are at 100% capacity.

The high court granted the writ of certiorari before judgment on appeal in the Third Circuit and vacated the original judgment of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey denying an injunction against the restrictions to Reverend Kevin Robinson and Rabbi Yisrael Knopfler who preside over small houses of worship in the state.

The case will now be sent back to the District Court where it will be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court’s recent (November 30, 2020) decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, which held that houses of worship cannot be treated more harshly than functionally comparable secular entities such as schools, warehouses, factories and large stores.

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara addressed the core of the case.

“This is one of dozens of lawsuits across the country pitting houses of worship, their leaders, and congregants against gubernatorial abuse of power,” explained Ferrara. “This order shows that the Supreme Court is truly interested in ensuring churches get equal treatment with secular activities, even if the Governor Murphy’s edicts are not nearly as ‘severe’ as New York’s 10- and 25-person limits on houses of worship in Governor Cuomo’s “Red Zone” or California’s total ban on indoor worship in Governor Newsom’s “Purple Tier.”

“Under Murphy’s executive orders in New Jersey, houses of worship are limited to 25% capacity, while Costco, Walmart, factories, schools, and other venues, all get better treatment. What is particularly significant in this case is that the high court is not only recognizing the error of outright bans or virtual bans on houses of worship which were at issue in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo in New York and Harvest Rock v. Newsom in California, but also acknowledges the disparately applied capacity percentage limits also violate the Free Exercise clause.

Ferrara added “We are getting a very clear message from the United States Supreme Court that government cannot set up any rules that apply to places of worship, or worship activities, but not to other,  comparable secular activities. This is the very crux of religious discrimination and a blatant abuse of the United States Constitution and its Amendments.”

Also significant is that the Court granted certiorari and vacated the District Court’s refusal to grant an injunction from New Jersey’s “mask mandate.”  As the petition to the Supreme Court argued: “[U]nder New Jersey’s mask mandate, parties of eight (or family parties of unlimited size) can eat, drink and be merry sans masks while facing each other across narrow or round tables, without social distancing, all the while expelling particles of virus at each other—for hours on end, if the owner permits. Yet worshippers cannot sit in pews—facing in the same direction and separated by six feet from each other—for even one hour, once a week, without the mandated face covering. They [are allowed to] partake of Holy Communion or “the Kiddush cup” only “momentarily” without the state-imposed mask, but diners can tuck into multicourse dinners and imbibe wine for as long as they please while maskless. In what world is this disparate treatment of religion versus dining constitutionally permissible?”

Read the December 15, 2020, United States Supreme Court Order granting the writ of certiorari before judgement and vacating the October 2 order of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and remanding it to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit here [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/NJ-Order-order-to-vacate.jpg].

Read the Thomas More Society’s Emergency Application to Justice Alito for an Injunction Pending Appellate Review, filed with the United States Supreme Court in Rev. Kevin Robinson and Rabbi Yisrael A. Knopfler v. Philip D. Murphy, Governor of the State of New Jersey, et. al, on November 19, 2020, here [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Robinson-et-al.-v.-Murphy-et-al.-Emerg.-App.-for-IPA-to-Justice-Alito-11-19-2020.pdf] along with the Reply in Support of the application here https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/SCOTUS-Reply-NJ.pdf

4 thoughts on “United States Supreme Court Hands Down Religious Rights Victory for New Jersey Priest and Rabbi

  1. Lets not forget, BLM protests are allowed 100%.
    Oh wait… no more protests ? The death of George who?
    Oh never mind. The election is over. The ballot boxes were stuffed by Dems. They stole the election.
    No more outrage.
    Fucking scumbag democrats with their paid agitators.

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  2. “Lets not forget, BLM protests are allowed 100%.”
    – As are anti-mask/lockdown protests. Do you have a point?

    “Oh wait… no more protests ? The death of George who?”
    – Your selective memory may have led you to forget that their was a spate of unjust killing of black men and women earlier in the year (ahmaud arbery and breonna taylor, to give two examples) prior to Floyd. His murder was just the breaking point. As with mass shootings, there is always another one just around the corner.

    “Oh never mind. The election is over. The ballot boxes were stuffed by Dems. They stole the election. No more outrage.”
    – Because you people on the right are a bunch of whiners, the election has been dragged out and all of the outrage oxygen has been sucked up by you ninnies. Once you are finished with that, you will go back to murdering and suppressing minorities so that the whole cycle can start again.

    “Fucking scumbag democrats with their paid agitators.”
    LOL. Paid by whom – Soros? Sounds like someone has been watching Tucker Carlson again. Do some “critical thinking”, sheep.

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  3. But you dont refute any of the first comment, because you cant. Biden has been outed as a corrupt politician and the so called “enlightened” ones still support him. Sad.

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  4. Who paid the protesters?
    Who paid to have pallets of bricks delivered to the protest sites so they could toss them at police?
    Its always unfortunate when a career criminal who doesnt happen to be caucasion gets killed when they resist the police. And lets not forget these interactions with the police are because of an allegation of a criminal act in progress.
    Now that the democrats stole the election, they no longer need to pay ‘protesters’ to burn down cities.
    You democrats suck and couldn’t ever win an honest election.
    When the mob stole the election from Nixon in 1960 JFK became President. And the cheating lying Dems have only refined their scumbag tactics since then.
    Now that they own the liberal media, and online social media, they are able to control the narrative so uninformed voters (illegal voters too) pull the lever for the dems… or as in mail in voting… stuff the ballet box with illegal votes.
    One question for you brain dead democrats… if i have to SHOW ID to get on a plane, cash a check, and a multitude of other things… WHY do you not want it for voting…unless your a fucking cheater.

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