12:18 GMT18 January 2021
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    The governor issued new regulations as the city continues to show an increasing number of daily new coronavirus infections amid the second wave of the pandemic. The justices, however, ruled that his measures were disproportionate and violated the First Amendment rights of religious groups.

    The US Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in favour of rescinding a recent executive order of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to limit the attendance at houses of worship to 10 and 25% of their max capacity depending on whether they are located in "red" or "yellow" zones of coronavirus infections. This was the first time where Justice Amy Coney Barrett, appointed by President Donald Trump in October despite the protests from Democrats, seemingly had the decisive vote.

    In the released ruling, the US Supreme Court indicated that Cuomo's order violated the First Amendment rights of New York citizens by specifically limiting the freedom of religious groups. The court namely found that many of the red and yellow regions, purportedly designated by the number of new COVID-19 infections, actually were "gerrymandered" to include areas heavily populated by Orthodox Jews.

    The ruling also stressed that the new rules regarding limits on the maximum capacity of houses of worship do not apply to secular activities, for example on businesses that are deemed essential. The ruling namely questioned the way the "essential" nature of those businesses had been determined by the NY authorities, bringing up the fact that hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores ended up on the list of essentials. The justices' ruling argued that if no limits applied on the number of people that could enter the liquor store to buy alcohol without endangering public health, they should be allowed to do the same to fulfil their religious needs.

    The US Supreme Court's ruling, however, was met with opposition by some US citizens, who rushed to Twitter to express their discontent. They namely lashed out at Justice Amy Barrett, accusing her of purportedly being responsible for new coronavirus infections in New York that are yet to come and accompanying their tweets with the hashtag #AmyCovidBarrett, which soon went trending in the US.

    Barrett's appointment to the Supreme Court solidified the perceived dominance of conservative justices in the body and was met with vehement opposition from Democrats, who alleged that a new justice, replacing late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, must be appointed by whoever wins the 2020 presidential election. However, Trump and the Republicans ignored the criticism and successfully pushed Barrett's candidacy through the Senate confirmation on 27 October.


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    Andrew Cuomo, New York, coronavirus, COVID-19, US Supreme Court, US, Amy Coney Barrett
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