University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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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.

On June 26, 2020, the court granted a preliminary injunction. 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 court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to waive bond.

Gregory Marsh - 07/10/2020


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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
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
State of New York
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 2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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 ]

Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00651-GLS-DJS (N.D.N.Y.)
PR-NY-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint for Civil Rights Violations, Injunctive Relief, and a Declaratory Judgment [ECF# 1]
PR-NY-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (With Notice) and a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2]
PR-NY-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order to Show Cause [ECF# 7] (N.D.N.Y.)
PR-NY-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Application for Temporary Preliminary Injunctive Relief [ECF# 18]
PR-NY-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Declaration of Ellen Parodi [ECF# 19, 19-7]
PR-NY-0007-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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
Date: 06/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Declaration of Ellen Parodi [ECF# 31]
PR-NY-0007-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a TRO/Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 32]
PR-NY-0007-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Declaration [ECF# 33]
PR-NY-0007-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proposed Supplemental Brief of Prospective Amicus Curiae Ahuva Kleinman in Support of Plaintiffs [ECF# 34]
PR-NY-0007-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum-Decision and Order [ECF# 35] (2020 WL 3488742) (N.D.N.Y.)
PR-NY-0007-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/26/2020
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-0007-9000
Stewart, Daniel J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers 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-0007-9000
McHale, Michael (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0002 | PR-NY-0007-0006 | PR-NY-0007-0008 | PR-NY-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers James, Letitia (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0004
Kerwin, Adrienne (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0004 | PR-NY-0007-0010 | 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-0007-9000
Sadok, Melanie (New York) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-9000
Other Lawyers Coleman, Ronald D (New Jersey) show/hide docs
PR-NY-0007-0009 | PR-NY-0007-9000

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