GENESEO Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty confirmed Tuesday his deputies wont disturb gatherings of more than 10 people if theyre gathered for the purpose of practicing their religion. Such a gathering would be in violation of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and punishable by an up to $1,000 fine.
I did put out a written directive to our patrol division members stating that if we are called to investigate a PAUSE violation involving people gathering for the purpose of a religious service, to do a drive by only, document in a report and forward to the chief deputy of our police services for further review, said Dougherty in an email. We will not be disrupting these services.
The contents of the directive are in line with the actions the Sheriffs Office has taken in response to previous complaints alleging violations of Cuomos New York on PAUSE order in Livingston County, Dougherty said.
We have not made one arrest on a PAUSE-related complaint but instead investigated and, if founded, educated only, he explained.
Dougherty said his decision to issue the directive was very difficult, especially given the intent of Cuomos order to minimize loss of life during a public health crisis. But with businesses starting to resume operations under the first phase of the governors reopening plan, and more slated to begin opening in Phase II, it ultimately came down to a Constitutional issue, he said.
The First Amendment is very clear and therefore we will not interfere with these religious gatherings, Dougherty said. Instead, we will do the drive by, document and review each case without disruption.
Dougherty declined to provide a copy of the written directive he sent to deputies.
New Yorks public gathering restrictions, which have been in place in some form since mid-March, started to slacken earlier this month in certain areas of the state that met criteria laid out in Cuomos reopening plan, which he dubbed New York Forward.
The plan established four different phases during which certain types of business are allowed to start reopening in the regions of the state that achieve public health metrics, such as a sufficiently low coronavirus infection rate and the presence of robust contact-tracing capacity.
The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Livingston County, was among the regions allowed to begin Phase I reopening May 15. The phase allowed businesses in the construction, agriculture and manufacturing industries, among others, to resume operations, provided they observe social distancing and other public health measures meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
To read the New York Forward reopening guidelines, click here.
But nowhere in Cuomos initial reopening plan was there mention of when places of worship would be allowed to resume normal religious observances. In statements May 18, the states budget director, Robert Mujica, said churches would be allowed to begin reopening in the fourth and final phase of the states reopening plan.
That drew criticism from faith leaders, 300 of whom signed an open letter May 19 calling on Cuomo to prioritize the safe re-opening of churches for in-person worship services.
In a statement announcing the letter, Jason McGuire, executive director for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative values advocacy and lobbying group, argued churches should be allowed to begin reopening earlier, during Phase II.
If it is safe to re-open retail establishments in a given region, it is safe to re-open churches in that region as well, said McGuire, a Lima resident.
Local faith leaders who signed the open letter include Rev. Paul Palmer of the Oakland Wesleyan Church in Nunda, Pastor Donald Ray of the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Geneseo, and Pastor Matthew White of Village Baptist Church in Mount Morris.
To read the letter, click here.
In statements May 20, Cuomo addressed the issue, saying religious gatherings of up to 10 people were OK, as long as participants observed social distancing guidelines and wore face masks. The governor followed those statements with a May 21 executive order, which permitted gatherings of ten or fewer individuals for any religious service or ceremony.
To read the executive order, click here.
Cuomo also encouraged places of worship to consider drive-in and parking lot services for religious ceremonies.
As a former altar boy, I get it. I think even at this time of stress and when people are so anxious and so confused, I think those religious ceremonies can be very comforting, Cuomo said. But we need to find out how to do it, and do it safely, and do it smartly. The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected.
In a statement posted to its website, NYCF said Cuomos 10 or fewer people concession on religious services doesnt go far enough, calling it an attempt to appease faith communities by making a minor gesture in our direction that falls far short of what is needed.
Added the group: A continued ban on worship services of more than 10 people effectively prevents all but the smallest churches from holding in-person services. There is no public health reason to bar churches in areas that have not been significantly affected by the pandemic from holding in-person services, provided that health and safety precautions are taken.
- Afternoon Briefs: SCOTUS will consider cheerleader's First Amendment case; former AG dies at 88 - ABA Journal - January 5th, 2021
- No Blanket Protection for Internet Platforms - The Wall Street Journal - January 5th, 2021
- Walsh Vetoes Ordinance That Would Restrict Police Use Of Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets - WBUR - January 5th, 2021
- Happy new and old year: 2020 just won't go away when it comes to first amendment issues in 2021 - Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era - January 5th, 2021
- Far-Right VA State Senator Claims huge victory for the First Amendment and for open access to government for all Virginians. Except That the Court... - January 5th, 2021
- Will You Save Money On Hospital Bills With New Price Transparency Rule? : Shots - Health News - NPR - January 5th, 2021
- "I am asking Washingtonians and those who live in the region to stay out of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and not to engage with... - January 5th, 2021
- Julian Assange Extradition to U.S. Blocked Over Mental Health Concerns - The New York Times - January 5th, 2021
- The First Amendment is under siege and most Americans know it - The Central New York Business Journal - December 30th, 2020
- First Circuit Creates Exception To Massachusetts Wiretap Statute Based On First Amendment Rights, Allows Citizens And Press To Record Police Activity... - December 30th, 2020
- First Circuit Appeals Court Reaffirms Its 2011 Decision: The First Amendment Protects The Recording Of Cops - Techdirt - December 30th, 2020
- New Year's Eve In The Year Of The Coronavirus - The Rhino Times of Greensboro - The Rhino TImes - December 30th, 2020
- On Religion: COVID was year's top religion story. But which story? - Tahlequah Daily Press - December 30th, 2020
- How Lin Wood Became a Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theorist - The New York Times - December 30th, 2020
- The Year That Changed the Internet - The Atlantic - December 30th, 2020
- Section 230 Isn't A Subsidy; It's A Rule Of Civil Procedure - Techdirt - December 30th, 2020
- 7 Recommendations for the New Year - Contracting Business - December 30th, 2020
- Smith: Small steps to bring hope and wonder - The Register-Guard - December 30th, 2020
- Court Enjoins Enforcement of Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping Executive Order for Federal Contractors and Grantees - JD Supra - December 30th, 2020
- COOMBES: Put the First Amendment first - University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily - October 12th, 2020
- Did the First Amendment to the Constitution lay the foundation for an authoritarian state? - The Indian Express - October 12th, 2020
- First Amendment Right to Record Child-Protection Visit to Your Home - Reason - October 12th, 2020
- First Amendment scholars weigh in on legality of Terminal Tower Biden Harris light display - cleveland.com - October 12th, 2020
- Use of Trademarks in Creative Works & Lanham Act Liability - The National Law Review - October 12th, 2020
- 'Introduction to the First Amendment Museum' topic of presentation - Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel - October 12th, 2020
- Judge amy coney barrett and the First Amendment - Lexology - October 12th, 2020
- A vote for Trump is a vote against the First Amendment - Poughkeepsie Journal - October 12th, 2020
- Trump Admin. Says First Amendment Is Moot In WeChat Case - Law360 - October 12th, 2020
- You Shouldn't Get Sued for Petitioning the Government - Cato Institute - October 12th, 2020
- Reporters Committee welcomes Inasmuch Foundation Legal Fellow - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - October 12th, 2020
- FIRST 5: Trump and COVID-19 -- How 'free' are/should we be? - Salina Post - October 12th, 2020
- Candidates and voters alike suffer as yard signs are targeted for theft and vandalism - Burlington Hawk Eye - October 12th, 2020
- Letters to the Editor: The First Amendment in Rio Rancho - Albuquerque Journal - September 21st, 2020
- Texas A&M University Introduces First Amendment Website - Texas A&M University Today - September 21st, 2020
- Attorney on first amendment rights of protesters: The government must protect these rights - RochesterFirst - September 21st, 2020
- Polk County GOP chairperson gathering signatures in support of a Second Amendment Designated County - Grand Forks Herald - September 21st, 2020
- Health officials urge people who attended Trump rally on Saturday to get tested for coronavirus - The Fayetteville Observer - September 21st, 2020
- Potsdam 'toilet gardens' will stay, for now, as federal judge grants injunction in toilet case - NNY360 - September 21st, 2020
- This Week at The Ninth: Informational Injury and Union Dues - JD Supra - September 21st, 2020
- Even with a Recent Lag, Special Interest PACs Enjoy Big Fundraising Edge Over Parties - InsiderNJ - September 21st, 2020
- Readers respond: Racists coming out of the woodwork - oregonlive.com - September 21st, 2020
- WeChat and TikTok Sanctions Not to Came Into Effect Yesterday - JD Supra - September 21st, 2020
- The Oklahoma Meat Consumer Protection Act is Meat Lobby's Response to the Increased Consumer Demand for Plant-Based Options - vegconomist - the vegan... - September 21st, 2020
- Army esports team denies accusations of violating First Amendment, offering fake giveaways - ArmyTimes.com - July 21st, 2020
- FIRST FIVE: Fighting over the meaning of First Amendment freedoms - hays Post - July 21st, 2020
- My View: In Provincetown, strange views of the First Amendment - Wicked Local Provincetown - July 21st, 2020
- John Bolton Gambles That Constitution Will Save Profits on Book That Was Embarrassing to the President - Law & Crime - July 21st, 2020
- Second Circuit Wrecks All Sorts Of First Amendment Protections To Keep Lawsuit Against Joy Reid Alive - Techdirt - July 21st, 2020
- Editorial A flushtrated community: Potsdam trampling on First Amendment rights of toilet artist - NNY360 - July 21st, 2020
- This Week in Technology + Press Freedom: July 19, 2020 - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - July 21st, 2020
- Churchill: Troy preacher has the right to offend - Times Union - July 21st, 2020
- More conferences cancel fall sports and other COVID-19 news - Inside Higher Ed - July 21st, 2020
- First Amendment on the street | Opinion | dailyitem.com - Sunbury Daily Item - June 30th, 2020
- Taking a cellphone video of police? Theres a First Amendment for that - Seattle Times - June 30th, 2020
- First Amendment Bars California from Requiring a Proposition 65 Glyphosate Warning - JD Supra - June 30th, 2020
- Read the First Amendment | Letters To The Editor - The Central Virginian - June 30th, 2020
- First Amendment right to protest is in jeopardy in Jacksonville - The Florida Times-Union - June 30th, 2020
- Pence says First Amendment is why Trump campaign held Tulsa rally despite local health officials' warnings - Yahoo News - June 30th, 2020
- Supreme Court hands win to religious schools | TheHill - The Hill - June 30th, 2020
- Letter to the Editor: Remember and Defend the First Amendment - Dana Point Times - June 20th, 2020
- Another look at the First Amendment | Opinion - Franklin News Post - June 20th, 2020
- Death threats protected by First Amendment, attorney says - Alpena News - June 20th, 2020
- Really Pathetic: First Amendment Expert Torches DOJ Efforts to Stop John Bolton Book - Law & Crime - June 20th, 2020
- The First Amendment protects attorneys from compelled speech | TheHill - The Hill - June 17th, 2020
- Protesters are protected by the First Amendment and will not be cited any violations if they remain peaceful - WATN - Local 24 - June 17th, 2020
- Dear Journal: That's some amendment, that First Amendment; let's use it - The Daily World - June 17th, 2020
- Barr Threatens Suit To Stop Boltons Book Because The First Amendment Is, Like, More Of A Suggestion Really - Above the Law - June 17th, 2020
- NASCAR tossed out First Amendment and more letters to the editors - Chattanooga Times Free Press - June 17th, 2020
- Snap's decision to restrict Trump is within its First Amendment rights, CEO says - CNBC - June 17th, 2020
- First Amendment rights? Only for the Left - Must Read Alaska - June 17th, 2020
- "Vocational Training Is Speech Protected by the First Amendment" - Reason - June 17th, 2020
- A North Carolina professor who sparked outrage with his tweets still has his job. Why? It's called the First Amendment. - USA TODAY - June 17th, 2020
- Opinion: 1st Amendment rights apparently only apply to the left - Juneau Empire - June 17th, 2020
- If you're planning to take part in protests, know your rights. Read this. - CNN - June 17th, 2020
- Opinion: Trump's Antifa crackdown treads on First Amendment - The Detroit News - June 17th, 2020
- First Amendment Rights and Twitter, Encryption Backdoors - Security Boulevard - June 1st, 2020
- Arrest of CNN Crew in Minneapolis a 'Violation of First Amendment' - Voice of America - June 1st, 2020
- Trump, Twitter and the First Amendment - The New York Times - June 1st, 2020
- First Amendment Group Opposes Webinars On Toll Roads - WUSF News - June 1st, 2020
- ACLU issues warning to police to protect First Amendment rights of protesters - KATC Lafayette News - June 1st, 2020