The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) has welcomed a ruling by the US Supreme Court made late on Wednesday, challenging New York state's latest restrictions in novel coronavirus hot spots in relation to religious congregationsThe court on a 5-4 vote granted requests made by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Orthodox congregations Agudath Israel of Kew Garden Hills and Agudath Israel of Madison, as well as nationwide Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America to be allowed to congregate for religious worship. An October 6 decision by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down non-essential businesses in targeted areas where infections have spiked, including some Brooklyn neighborhoods. It limited gatherings at religious institutions to 10 people in some areas and 25 in others. "The right of all Americans to enjoy freedom of religion is a sacrosanct privilege afforded to us by the United States Constitution that cannot be trampled upon by anyone, including government officials," the NCYI said in a statement on the ruling. "For religious individuals and people of faith, having the ability to pray in a synagogue or other place of worship is a core component of their communal life and inhibiting their ability to do so is inequitable and injurious. Houses of worship cannot be singled out in a punitive fashion while it is business as usual at other facilities, and we are grateful that the court ruled that this type of double standard will not be tolerated."The houses of worship say that the limits violated religious freedoms protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment, and that their facilities were singled out for more stringent restrictions than essential businesses, such as food stores. "Religious services are essential services," the NCYI said. "We are gratified that the Supreme Court declared that restrictions placed upon religious services cannot be any more severe than restrictions imposed upon businesses that are deemed essential," the NCYI continued. "First Amendment safeguards for religious services are only protected when such services are not discriminated against and are treated similarly to other constitutionally protected activities." The ruling was also welcomed by the Thomas More Society, a not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect for religious liberty within the legal system. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that governors can no longer use a public health emergency as a pretext for dictates shutting or severely restricting the use of houses of worship while secular businesses and activities they deem ‘essential’- and even certain favored ‘non-essential’ secular businesses and activities - are not subjected to the same draconian restrictions," Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara said in a statement. "What is considered ‘safe’ for grocery stores, liquor stores and massage parlors, must be considered safe for churches and synagogues.” Ferrara added, “The Court has also ended reliance on the outdated Jacobson decision, a 115-year-old anachronism, which over the past eight months has morphed into a kind of super-precedent for any sort of restriction on constitutional freedoms governors feel like imposing during a public health crisis. Religious liberty has been rescued from the brink of extinction in the name of COVID-19, a virus with a 99.8% survival rate.”The order marked one of the first consequential actions on the court of President Donald Trump's new appointee, conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast a deciding vote in favor of the religious groups. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts dissented along with the court's three liberals.In his ruling, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote: “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.”A federal judge in Brooklyn rejected separate requests made by the religious groups on October 9. The New York-based 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals declined emergency requests filed by both sets of challengers on November 9.In two previous cases this year, the court on 5-4 votes turned away similar requests by churches in Nevada and California. Those votes occurred before the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and saw her and her three liberal colleagues joined by Roberts in the majority.