WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide, the Supreme Court late Wednesday temporarily barred New York from enforcing certain attendance limits at houses of worship in areas designated as hard hit by the virus.
The court’s action won’t have any immediate impact since the two groups that sued as a result of the restrictions, the Catholic church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues, are no longer subject to them. The groups had challenged attendance limits in areas designated red and orange zones, but they are now in the less-restrictive yellow zones.
The justices split 5-4, with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority, her first publicly discernible vote as a justice. The court’s three liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.
The move is a shift for the court. Earlier in this year, when Barrett’s liberal predecessor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was on the court, the justices divided 5-4 to leave in place pandemic-related capacity restrictions affecting churches in California and Nevada.