A federal judge issued an injunction on Friday blocking the state of New York from enforcing certain restrictions on outdoor religious gatherings and from limiting indoor religious gatherings more so than any other industry that is part of the state's Phase 2 reopening.
The ruling is a victory for religious organization that argued they were being treated unfairly by the state's draconian response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Many argued the New York was being harder on churches than on protesters, who flooded streets demanding police reform in violation of state social distancing orders, NBC New York reports.
Judge Gary Sharpe agreed that religious activities were being "treated less favorably than comparable secular activities," but added that his injunction would not undercut the state's "interest in controlling the spread of COVID-19, provided that plaintiffs abide by social distancing guidelines."
On Monday, the Justice Department issued a statement saying New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had demonstrated a "troubling preference for certain First Amendment rights over others."
The statement went on to cite limits on the size of religious gatherings, but not on the size of protests.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman was dismissed last weekend, purportedly over his refusal to sign the letter. (Berman also prosecuted several of Trump's allies.)
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