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Case Name Soos v. Cuomo PR-NY-0007
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00651 ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 summary: On June 10, two Catholic priests and three Orthodox Jews filed this lawsuit against the city and state of New York, alleging that by allowing protests while prohibiting worship, they discriminated against people of faith and violating their constitutional rights. They sought ... read more >
COVID-19 summary: On June 10, two Catholic priests and three Orthodox Jews filed this lawsuit against the city and state of New York, alleging that by allowing protests while prohibiting worship, they discriminated against people of faith and violating their constitutional rights. They sought declaratory relief, a temporary restraining order (TRO), a preliminary injunction, and a final injunction prohibiting the defendants from enforcing limitations on worship services. The court denied the TRO on June 11 but granted the preliminary injunction on June 26.


As part of New York’s ban on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at houses of worship and outdoor religious gatherings was strictly limited. In June, state and city officials allowed mass gatherings protesting the death of George Floyd, but continued to actively enforce prohibitions against congregational worship. Two Catholic priests and three Orthodox Jews filed this lawsuit on June 10, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, by allowing protests while prohibiting worship, were discriminating against people of faith and violating their constitutional rights. Represented by the Thomas More Society, they alleged violations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments (under 42 U.S.C. §1983), the New York Constitution, and the New York Executive Law. They sought a declaration that the restrictions on indoor and outdoor worship were unconstitutional and were illegal under New York law; a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a final injunction prohibiting the defendants from enforcing limitations on worship services; and attorneys’ fees and costs. The case was assigned to Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe.

The plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order was denied on June 11 for services occurring on June 12 or 14 because there was insufficient time to make a reasoned determination given that the complaint had been filed the prior day.

On June 26, 2020, the court granted the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. 2020 WL 3488742. The injunction prohibited the defendants from limiting the plaintiffs’ indoor worship beyond the limitations imposed on businesses listed in Phase 2 of New York’s reopening plan. It also prohibited any numerical limitation on attendance at the plaintiffs’ outdoor worship services. The defendants appealed the order on July 27.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 9, 2020. The amended complaint added additional plaintiffs, and also added additional defendants including the Superintendent of the New York State Police, the New York State Commissioner of Health, and various officials in the New York City Department of Education. The amended complaint kept the claims pertaining to houses of worship and added claims seeking to enjoin the defendants from closing religious schools. The plaintiffs concurrently filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to the same effect, but it was denied due to failure to properly serve the defendants. On October 15, the plaintiffs filed another motion for a temporary restraining order.

As of October 17, 2020, the case remains ongoing. The Court is awaiting the Defendants' answer to the plaintiffs' motion for TRO before ruling on the issue.

Gregory Marsh - 07/10/2020
Justin Hill - 10/17/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) Attorney General
Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education
Governor of New York
Interim Commissioner of the New York State Education Department
Mayor of the City of new York
New York City Commissioner of Health
New York State Commissioner of Health
Superintendent of the New York State Police
Plaintiff Description Three Orthodox Jews and two Catholic priests who were unable to worship because of New York's COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 06/10/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Catholic Priests and Orthodox Jewish Congregants Sue New York Governor in Federal Court For Civil Rights Violations
The Thomas More Society
Date: Jun. 10, 2020
By: Thomas More Society
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D.N.Y.
10/16/2020
1:20-cv-00651-GLS-DJS
PR-NY-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D.N.Y.
06/10/2020
Verified Complaint for Civil Rights Violations, Injunctive Relief, and a Declaratory Judgment [ECF# 1]
PR-NY-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/10/2020
Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (With Notice) and a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2]
PR-NY-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/11/2020
Order to Show Cause [ECF# 7]
PR-NY-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/15/2020
State Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Application for Temporary Preliminary Injunctive Relief [ECF# 18]
PR-NY-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/15/2020
Declaration of Ellen Parodi [ECF# 19, 19-7]
PR-NY-0007-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/16/2020
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Reply to Defendants' Memoranda Opposing Plaintiffs' Application for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 25]
PR-NY-0007-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/22/2020
Declaration of Ellen Parodi [ECF# 31]
PR-NY-0007-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/22/2020
Supplemental Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a TRO/Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 32]
PR-NY-0007-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/22/2020
Declaration [ECF# 33]
PR-NY-0007-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/25/2020
Proposed Supplemental Brief of Prospective Amicus Curiae Ahuva Kleinman in Support of Plaintiffs [ECF# 34]
PR-NY-0007-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
06/26/2020
Memorandum-Decision and Order [ECF# 35] (2020 WL 3488742)
PR-NY-0007-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
10/02/2020
Defendant De Blasio's Answer [ECF# 53]
PR-NY-0007-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
10/02/2020
Answer [ECF# 54]
PR-NY-0007-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
10/09/2020
First Amended Verified Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 57]
PR-NY-0007-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
10/09/2020
Order to Show Cause [ECF# 58]
PR-NY-0007-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Sharpe, Gary L. (N.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0003 | PR-NY-0007-0011 | PR-NY-0007-0014 | PR-NY-0007-9000
Stewart, Daniel J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coleman, Ronald D. (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000
Ferrara, Christopher A. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0001 | PR-NY-0007-0002 | PR-NY-0007-0006 | PR-NY-0007-0008 | PR-NY-0007-0013 | PR-NY-0007-9000
McHale, Michael (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0002 | PR-NY-0007-0006 | PR-NY-0007-0008 | PR-NY-0007-9000
Oswald, Phillip A. (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers James, Letitia (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0004 | PR-NY-0007-0012
Johnson, James E. (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0015
Kerwin, Adrienne (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0004 | PR-NY-0007-0010 | PR-NY-0007-0012 | PR-NY-0007-9000
Meltzer, Hilary M (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000
Parodi, Ellen (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0005 | PR-NY-0007-0007 | PR-NY-0007-0015 | PR-NY-0007-9000
Sadok, Melanie (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0015 | PR-NY-0007-9000
Other Lawyers Coleman, Ronald D (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0009 | PR-NY-0007-9000
McGuire, Kenneth J. (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000

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