Judge Denies Diocese Request for Preliminary Injunction Against Cuomo

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Governor’s COVID-19 Restrictions on Houses of Worship Can Continue

WINDSOR TERRACE — The second time around in federal court was no more successful than the first for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

On the evening of Oct. 16, Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied the diocese’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt restrictions imposed on houses of worship. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had placed, via executive order, limits on the number of people who can participate in religious services in communities with high COVID-19 positivity rates.

It was the second time in a week that a court ruling went against the diocese. A different federal judge initially sided with the governor exactly one week earlier, on Oct. 9.

“The Diocese of Brooklyn is extremely disappointed by today’s ruling, as we believe we presented a strong case in support of our right to worship,” said a statement from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio shortly after the judge issued his ruling. “It is a shame our parishioners in the red zones cannot return to Mass when the judge acknowledged we have done everything right.”

“We are now considering our appellate options,” the statement read in regards to the diocese’s next steps.

The diocese was fighting the governor’s executive order allowing only 10 people to attend Mass in certain Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods. Cuomo announced his executive order on Oct. 6 in response to a rise in COVID-19 positivity rates in several neighborhoods.

The diocese filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court two days later, charging that the limitations violated the First Amendment and were being unevenly applied.

Under the governor’s restrictions, three zones were created — red, orange, and yellow. In red zones, churches and other religious institutions are limited to 25 percent capacity, with no more than 10 people. In orange zones, attendance at religious services is restricted to a maximum of 33 percent capacity with no more than 25 people. In yellow zones, 50 percent capacity is permitted at services.

There are more than two dozen churches and parishes within the red and orange zones. 

Churches in red zones closed on Sunday, Oct. 11, the first Sunday the regulations were in effect, rather than hold Masses for only a small handful of parishioners, according to the diocese.

“It is unfortunate the court has ruled against us, and as we will abide by these restrictions, the churches in the red zones are closed until further notice.” Bishop DiMarzio said the statement. “The Mass attendance limits of 10 people are extremely difficult to implement because we never want to turn away worshippers. It is unfortunate that our inalienable constitutional right to worship is still impeded despite the efforts we have made.” 

But the diocese isn’t giving up its fight. 

“Despite this loss, we will continue to press our leaders for policies that consider the individual circumstances of houses of worship,” the statement continues. “We will also continue to advocate for places of worship to be classified as essential, for there is nothing more necessary today than a community of believers, united in prayer, asking the Lord to end this pandemic.”

The decision came a day after Garaufis presided over the four-hour hearing. 

The diocese had high hopes going into the Oct. 15 hearing because it appeared as if the new hearing was giving the lawsuit a second wind.

The hearing marked a quick turnaround for the diocese, which suffered a setback a week earlier when Judge Eric Komitee denied a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the governor from implementing the regulations. Garaufis was originally supposed to preside over the Oct. 8 hearing. Komitee heard the case on an emergency basis. 

After Komitee’s decision, Randy Mastro, the attorney representing the diocese, wrote a letter to Garaufis requesting a new hearing, which was granted by Garaufis.

While several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens have seen increases in COVID-19 cases, the Catholic churches in those neighborhoods have not seen a spike, according to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

6 thoughts on “Judge Denies Diocese Request for Preliminary Injunction Against Cuomo

  1. BRAVO TO THE BISHOP FOR FIGHTING THE MODERN DAY PONTIUS PILATE IN ALBANY VIA COURT ACTION.HE MUST APPEAL TILL HE GETS TO THE US SUPREME COURT . WITH THE ADVENT OF FUTURE JUSTICE BARRETT ON THE COURT HIS AVENUE TO SUCCESS IS OPEN. THE 2 FEDERAL COURT JUDGES WHO DENIED THE APPLICATION ARE DEAD WRONG AND NEED TO GO BACK TO LAW SCHOOL APPARENTLY, THEY SKIPPED CONSTITUTIONAL LAW CLASS IN LAW SCHOOL I WOULD RECOMMEND THEY TAKE SOME CONTINUING EDUCATION CLASSES TO BECOME UP TO DATE ON THE LAW. .BEFORE THEY MESS UP THEIR NEXT CASE BEFORE THEM something tells me that if the anarchists gov cuomo is so fond of were marauding the streets of nyc looting, terrorizing innocents, the federal judges would have been most receptive to their needs–even though they would forego masks and social distancing. it just wouldnt matter as its politically correct and apparently the right to attend mass is not.

  2. My opinion is that the Judges who have ruled against the Diocese are Democrats and therefore support NYS Governor Cuomo. With other decisions made by Cuomo regarding abortion and euthanasia and the Nursing Home deaths particularly within Queens, it is very obvious that he is not a practicing Catholic. I recognize the decisions made by the Judges against the Diocese is all “biased” and nothing more than denial of the fact that Cuomo’s executive order is discriminatory. I believe that both Cuomo, DiBlasio and the Judges have turned the issue of church attendance and shutdowns into nothing more than a “political” game where they refuse to listen to the facts presented to the court and their mission is to destroy places of faith as well as those who are faithful to Jesus Christ. It is ridiculous to rule that within a huge church that seats 800 or more that even there, there can only be 10 to 25 people attending Mass. I believe I read in the Tablet Newspaper that it refered to a church that seats 800 people and there can only be 10 people in the church. I do not respect the NYS Governor for restraining churches when in fact they are a “necessity” nor do I respect the Judges who rule in favor of Cuomo. I hope the Diocese brings this lawsuit to the Supreme Court where it will be “one of a kind”. But after seeing how the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of cases that were clearly cases where Plaintifs won the freedom to practice their twisted version of the Bible and the twisted beliefs. For example, why is it that same sex marriages are permitted in NYS? Why is it that a Christian Bakery is forced to bake a cake for a same sex couple? Why is it that Prayer has been removed from public schools? Why is there a constant gradual tearing down of Christian faith and worship?
    anti Christian cases, I have limited respect for the Supreme Court as well. So I don’t have faith in any court system because it is obvious that “religion” and “church” is under huge attack. So what is the worse the State of NY can do to Churches where they have 100 – 400 people seated in a church that seats 800 people? I suppose the City could arrest all of these people and fill the jails with these people feed them and keep them until they are released and they can go back and do go against Cuomo’s executive order. But we know that is really not the ideal solution. In closing I hope the Diocese attorneys and Bishop remembers the following: It is a fact that we have many people who attend stores and public places without wearing a mask even when social distancing is impossible. NYS Governor is a hypocrate in more ways than one and I invite him to invite me to sit down with him and talk to him about the many reasons why I say this. Including the fact Cuomo has required stores at least in the Up State NY area to post signs that say Masks are required but if you have a health problem that prevents you from wearing a Mask then you are not required to wear one. Clearly this is one of the most incredibly stupid mandate that Cuomo has made. For one thing any medical professional will say if you have a medical problem wear a mask and avoid public places as much as possible. If you have a medical problem that prevents you from wearing a mask then STAY HOME for heavens sake! What fool would go out into public midst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and not wear a mask? What kind of person would even make the mandate “if you have a health problem you are not required to wear a mask”?
    It is so laughable. Then you have those who don’t wear a mask and they wear just a plastic shield. Well again you have to wonder why they are permitted in public with only a plastic shield? It is again laughable but yet the person wearing the shield is exposing everyone around them with their “germs” as well as getting other people’s germs which can lead up to getting Covid-19 which spreads like wild fire. The plastic shield does “nothing” except to protect the cloth mask that one needs to wear under the shield . Notice this is what the medical field does (shield + mask) and not just shield. When you look at the shield you can see that when one coughs, speaks, breathes in and out their germs travel above the plastic shield or below the plastic shield and up into the air to travel to surrounding people. So why does Governor Cuomo and the NYS Health Dept . say that if you have a health problem that prohibits or prevents you from wearing a mask you don’t have to wear one, and yet places of worship including huge churches that seat 800 people can be shut down by Cuomo if they violate his mandate? Why is it that Governor Cuomo including other Governors and Mayors throughout the United States have permitted thousands of protestors to flood the streets in major cities with protestors who walk side by side without wearing masks. Then there is the increase of crime as well as increase of spreading covid-19 while permitting these protests and destruction of cities and businesses to go on for months especially in other states. Yet Cuomo continues with his threats of shutting down churches and or placing unreasonable extreme restrictions on places of worship. When obviously the fact remains that Cuomo and other governors and mayors are all hypocrats and Godless people. Then you have Governor Cuomo who has released thousands of criminals from prisons because of their fear of getting covid-19. If you do the crime then do the time. When you release that large amount of people from prison then you end up with an increase in crime including the increase of the risk of covid-19 . Only God can help these Governors and Mayors. But we can know that Jesus Christ Son of God suffered and died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins if we repent, believe in Jesus Christ and put our trust in Him. We know that through our Faith in Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit we can never be separated from Jesus Christ for He is in our hearts and minds both now and throughout eternity. According to Sacred Scripture those who deny Jesus Christ shall perish. God help all those who have ruled against this lawsuit that the Brooklyn Diocese has put before the courts. It is reasonable and with just cause that places of worship should not be faced with the threats of being shut down and for placing unreasonable restrictions on places of worship where Bishops and Priests are all practicing social distancing plus wearing a mask. Is it asking for too much to permit at least half the percentage of seating capacity in places of worship? Is it unreasonable for places of worship to provide services even with full capacity if the seating is at least 6 ft apart plus wearing masks? No it isn’t. God Bless the Bishops and Brooklyn Diocese for making this huge effort on behalf of thousands of Parishioners who want to attend the Mass.

  3. Unfortunately it is possible that the Judge does not want to offend governor cuomo and ruled against you. My opinion is that is “discrimination”. But with the fact that the judge acknowledged you have done everything right that is helpful if the Judge wrote it in his decision. So you have to keep the case going and file in the Appellate Court the Judge ruled in error and then state reasons why and make your case. It is a pain but you can do it. But be prepared to go higher up into the Supreme Court of Appeals if necessary. I don’t know if you can include other Bishops and Parishioners as plaintiffs who are not afraid of cuomo to support you , that would help. If there is time before the deadline to file in the Appellate Court you might consider writing an Amicus Curia to the Judge or possibily have a supportive Bishop including Parishioners. Then again you could start another new lawsuit against cuomo and add more plaintiffs and perhaps make it a class action lawsuit. Look in the court cases and find at least one case similiar to your case and has to do with restrictions in public buildings where people gather, or in places of worship., even if the case was won 100 years ago. What about when Typhoid and other infectious deceases hit NYC years ago? How were people restricted back then? There are cases out there and I am sure you can find them as additional support towards your argument. Also remember the New York State Consitution and the United States Constitution as additional support for your argument. Can you get doctors to support you and have them provide documentation that in a Cathedral that seats 800 people, the number of people wearing masks, sitting 6 ft apart to attend Mass? I wonder if the Dept of Health would be supportive? Courts know it takes work to sue and alot of people just give up especially after they lose the first round. But I am thankful you are not giving up. Unfortunately governor cuomo has his finger in the entire State and with him in Albany my opinion is that he appears to be the man in the empty suit. Didn’t President Trump pass a bill that enables Churches to be open? My question is why does governor cuomo consider sports an essential activity and has allowed for sports to continue and yet he cannot recognize the fact some churches are larger than others? As we see there is no restriction on how many shoppers can be in stores at the same time, especially in stores outside of New York City. Yet there is no restriction on how many shoppers can be in some of the stores. There are small churches in the New York area who don’t abide by the restrictions on numbers of people to attend church with some who don’t wear masks. My question is how has Cardinal Dolan been helping you? Perhaps if cuomo attended Mass he would be more concerned. But then again he excommunicated himself when he passed the Abortion Bill, Euthanasia , and Assisted Death Bill where patients can allow a Dr. to give them a drug to end their life. Based on age and how much the person contributes through work or whatever, that decision can be made and I think it is very dangerous and evil. Obviously you are dealing with a man who has no respect for life. When we see the big picture with cuomo making these decisions, we can see nothing but evil for lack of the “sanctity” of life and it’s destruction in many forms. It is all about politics and money anyway . The question is who is putting money into cuomo’s pockets and who he is putting money into the pockets who support him? When you look at how cuomo allowed the patients who had Covid-19 transfered from NYC hospitals into Nursing Homes particularly in Elmhurst where thousands in nursing homes died, there should be a law suit against cuomo for his neglect and reckless endangerment towards those patients lives. I am very sorry that the Bishops and Brooklyn Diocese have to go through this lawsuit and keep it going. I have no respect for governor cuomo. God Bless the Brooklyn Diocese and Bishops and all parishioners.