Following a controversial week in regard to African Americans, conservative Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 yesterday to block restrictions on religious services in Brooklyn and Queens—home to the most Black Catholics of any diocese in America.
While the injunctive ruling will likely apply indirectly to houses of worship statewide (and beyond), the lawsuit was filed against Governor Andrew Cuomo, himself a Catholic, by the diocese in question, that of Brooklyn (a suffragan diocese in the most Black Catholic archdiocese as well).
The local Orthodox Jewish synagogues joined the suit as well.
“You have a different court, and I think that was the statement that the court was making,” the governor said in a briefing call this morning.
The present court—formed following the appointment of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett—indeed delivered the opposite ruling of the previous religious freedom cases related to Coronavirus, from California and Nevada, which were decided while Justice Ginsburg was still on the bench.
Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush, joined the dissent in this case, however—as he did in the previous two.
Cuomo noted that, since positive COVID cases have declined in Brooklyn recently, the ruling from the court "doesn’t have any practical effect".
Those worshippers who were looking for a sign from the new court that their interests will be protected just might disagree.
In fact, they might even give thanks.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger, a priesthood applicant with the Josephites, and a ThM student w/ the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).