Three New York rabbis have filed suit against their state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) over his recent executive order mandating targeted coronavirus restrictions in Jewish communities, calling it “blatantly anti-Semitic.”
What are the details?
Last week, Cuomo issued major new restrictions on schools, businesses, and houses of worship in 20 COVID-19 “hotspots” in New York, after a rise in cases that he referred to as mainly an “ultra-Orthodox” Jewish problem, according to the New York Post.
The restrictions came just ahead of celebration of Jewish holidays Hoshanah Rabbah, Shmini Atzerees and Simchas Torah, and led to protests in the streets of Brooklyn.
In a lawsuit filed in the Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, Rabbis Moshe Rosner, Samuel Teitelbaum, and Chaim Leibish Rottenberg — representing their respective congregations — claim that the governor’s new order was “blatantly anti-Semitic, creating religious-observance based color coded ‘hot-spot’ zones directed towards particular Jewish communities.”
The defendants went on to argue that Cuomo’s order “specifically singles out the Orthodox Jewish community in what has proven to be the latest extension of Governor Cuomo’s streak of anti-Semitic discrimination.”
The Center for American Liberty, the group representing the congregations, say that his move is unconstitutional on several grounds, writing that the governor’s actions “violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the Freedom of Assembly Clause of the First Amendment, Substantive and Procedural Due Process Rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.”
According to the Associated Press, “Cuomo, who has said he has ‘respect and love’ for the Orthodox community, told reporters Thursday that he was not targeting Orthodox Jewish communities. He said red zones are based on addresses of residences where more individuals are testing positive for Covid-19.”
In reaction to a similar lawsuit from separate Jewish group last week, a senior advisor to Cuomo told The Post, “We’ve been sued virtually every day for every action taken.” He added, “We’re concentrating on reducing the virus in these hot spots and saving lives, period.”