Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Supreme Court orders New Jersey restrictions on houses of worship reevaluated by lower court

(JTA) — For the second time in three weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that state governments may not restrict religious gatherings more strictly than secular ones due to the pandemic.

Responding to an appeal by a New Jersey priest and an Orthodox rabbi, the high court in a unanimous opinion instructed an appellate court to review their claim that the rules laid down by Gov. Phil Murphy on limiting religious gatherings to 150 people or 25% of a room’s capacity, whichever number is lower, constituted religious discrimination. The court ordered a similar challenge to the restrictions in Colorado.

The order comes just weeks after the court blocked restrictions by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on religious gatherings in the state’s red zones — areas with rising COVID cases. In that case, brought by the Catholic Church’s Brooklyn Diocese and the Orthodox Jewish umbrella group Agudath Israel and decided by the court’s new conservative majority, the court ruled that New York’s pandemic restrictions could not be stricter for religious institutions than for secular ones.

“It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues and mosques,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion in that case.

No reason was given for the New Jersey ruling, but it was ordered to be reevaluated “in light of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo.”

The rabbi in the New Jersey case was Yisrael Knopfler of Lakewood, who was arrested in May and charged with holding a gathering in violation of the governor’s orders as well as resisting arrest.


  • Events

    Haart to Haart


    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.