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New York City. Credit: DiegoMariottini / Shutterstock.

CNA, June 23, 2020

– New York City cannot enforce coronavirus restrictions strictly on religious gatherings and leave mass public protests untouched, leading U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Mayor de Blasio’s recent public statements and enforcement of COVID-19 orders have demonstrated a troubling preference for certain First Amendment rights over others,” said leading Justice Department officials June 22.

“The Justice Department is glad Mayor de Blasio will now permit greater religious exercise and will continue to monitor New York City’s reopening to ensure that New York City extends the same respect to the freedom of religion, both in terms of indoor and outdoor gatherings, as it does to the freedoms of speech and assembly.”

The statement came from Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband and U.S. Attorney General Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan. They are overseeing the U.S. Department of Justice’s monitoring of state and local policies related to the novel coronavirus epidemic.  …

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