Patterico's Pontifications


Cuomo Asks Court to Enjoin Him from Enforcing His Own Executive Order

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:04 pm

[guest post by JVW]

On what else but COVID policy, naturally:

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has asked a federal court to block the state’s own restrictions on capacity at houses of worship in areas with high rates of coronavirus spread.

Cuomo issued an executive order in October ordering houses of worship to accept no more than ten people in so-called coronavirus “red” zones,” while 25 worshippers could be allowed in “orange” zones. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in November that those restrictions were unconstitutional, in a case brought by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization of Orthodox Jewish groups.

We discussed the Court’s ruling back in November. The Court sent the case back to a lower district court, and yesterday the U.S. District Court for New York’s Eastern District agreed with the governor’s request to strike down his order.

“Defendant [Cuomo] has agreed to an injunction against enforcement of the…capacity limits in red and orange zones,” Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto wrote in the Monday injunction. “Subsequently, Defendant’s counsel has represented in status conferences that before the end of February 2021,” the executive order’s restrictions “will be amended to remove houses of worship.”

Matsumoto’s ruling came after lawyers for the governor asked to cancel a hearing on the case, in a series of filings first reported by The New York Times. Aides to the governor told the Times that the state did not support an injunction against Cuomo’s executive order, but also did not oppose the injunction.

So I know all of the intelligent people on this blog are scratching their heads wondering why Governor Andrew Cuomo, ersatz hero of the pandemic response among Democrats everywhere, didn’t simply modify his executive order to reflect the more generous guardrails suggested by the judiciary. Could it be that the governor is not at all interested in allowing members of his administration to testify as to how pandemic decisions are being made in Albany?

One result of allowing the District Court to block the executive order was to prevent New York State health commissioner Howard Zucker from appearing for testimony at a previously-scheduled hearing in the case. Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at religious-liberty advocacy group Becket, alleged that the decision to drop the case was made to prevent Zucker from testifying in court.

“The Governor is desperately trying to avoid testimony showing that his orders shutting down synagogues and churches weren’t based on public health, but on politics,” Rassbach said in a statement.

Now it could conceivably be that the Cuomo Administration believes that church services are super-spreader events waiting to happen, especially as we gear up for the Passover and Easter seasons, and he wants it to be known that he was forced to accede to the judiciary so that if there is a COVID flare-up which can be traced back to the churches he can deliver the “I told you so” moment while once again casting himself as the all-seeing seer to guide us through these troubled times. But given his dismal track record and his callous politicization of the disease — including suggesting that a coronavirus vaccine developed and approved during the Trump Administration might be unsound and dangerous — I’m inclined to believe this is yet more of the authoritarian and micromanaging governor’s penchant for circling the wagons to control the narrative.


9 Responses to “Cuomo Asks Court to Enjoin Him from Enforcing His Own Executive Order”

  1. Idea for a new television series:
    When you take a group of idealistic young lawyers and put them in the midst of cynical and hard-bitten members of a corrupt political machine, hilarity ensues.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. That’s Emmy-nominated Gov. Cuomo to you, JVW.

    Hoi Polloi (139bf6)

  3. Consent decrees as a result of sweetheart (phony) lawsuits, between the federal government and Democrat-run localities, were a hallmark of the Obama administration.

    nk (1d9030)

  4. What an amazing display of leadership!

    norcal (b4d7b1)

  5. I must say it’s quite brave of you to go out on a limb there and surmise that a decision by Cuomo might possibly be tinged by a wee bit of political calculation, it’s so unlike him to let politics play any sort of role whatsoever in his decision-making.

    Jerryskids (999ce8)

  6. Slightly off topic

    The Trump Administration, or the CDC acting independently, bought vaccine tracking software from a company thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat, likea a Hollywood movie company, stole ideas from a small company that developed it but their version didn’t work so well. So the original developer went into competition and sold it to the states.

    The Trump administration awarded a no-bid contract to Deloitte to develop software to track vaccinations, but the system has flaws. A competitor claims the C.D.C. and the company stole her intellectual property.


    And now, an immunization expert who had offered the government her own mass vaccination tracker at a lower price than Deloitte’s is accusing the company and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of stealing her intellectual property.

    The expert, Tiffany Tate, the executive director of the Maryland Partnership for Prevention, made the allegation in a cease-and-desist letter obtained by The New York Times, and later confirmed its authenticity in an interview with her lawyer on Friday. Ms. Tate, who has spent two decades running immunization clinics in underserved communities, said she previewed her platform in May for Deloitte officials who were identified by the C.D.C. as consultants.

    The C.D.C. expressed interest in buying it, she said. But the centers instead asked Deloitte, without a competitive bidding process, to build its own system, dismissing warnings from state and local health officials and immunization managers that it was unwise to roll out an untested platform in the middle of a crisis….

    …Ultimately, the marketplace spoke. VAMS, which Mississippi’s state health officer, Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs, described this week as “suboptimal,” is being used in about 10 states. Ms. Tate offered to license her own system for $15 million — about a third of what the C.D.C. has committed to pay Deloitte — so the agency could give it free to states. When the C.D.C. rejected her, she said, she sold it to states herself.

    Now, 27 states and jurisdictions are using it, including North Dakota, which as of Friday had administered the first shot of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine to a higher percentage of its population than all but four other states. Louisiana is expected to sign on, which would bring the number to 28, and Virginia has abandoned VAMS for the system, known as PrepMod, Ms. Tate said.

    Sammy Finkelman (e4c3a1)

  7. Don’t worry, Sammy. Biden will just get his son-in-law’s medical company to fix everything.

    Hoi Polloi (139bf6)

  8. Cuomo may need his own impeachment:

    A top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told leading state Democratic lawmakers that the administration had withheld data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny, according to a bombshell new report.

    The revelation prompted condemnations and even talk of impeachment in Albany, the state’s capital.

    The New York Post first reported that Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, told leading Empire State Democrats that the administration feared the data could “be used against us” by the Justice Department during a video conference call.

    Sometimes it’s both the crime and the coverup that gets you.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  9. I think the idea that they were afraid of the Justice Department is a lie, designed to appeal to Democrats. It wouldn’t be an good excuse, by the way.

    In other news, nine members of the New York State Department of Health left during the last few months, and it is said this was because Governor Andrew Cuoomo would issue, rescind or change coronavirus regulations, and then demand his Department of Health come up with medical and scientific reasons for them.

    At least nine top New York state health officials have left, resigned or retired in recent months amid concerns that experts in the Health Department are being sidelined and treated disrespectfully by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to The New York Times.

    The Times said Cuomo has “all but declared war on his own public health bureaucracy.” Morale at the state Health Department plummeted during the pandemic and officials found themselves learning about Covid policy from the governor’s news conferences.

    The deputy commissioner for public health at the New York State Health Department resigned in late summer. Soon after, the director of its bureau of communicable disease control also stepped down. So did the medical director for epidemiology. Last month, the state epidemiologist said she, too, would be leaving….

    …. The departures have underscored the extent to which pandemic policy has been set by the governor, who with his aides crafted a vaccination program beset by early delays.

    The troubled rollout came after Mr. Cuomo declined to use the longstanding vaccination plans that the State Department of Health had developed in recent years in coordination with local health departments. Mr. Cuomo instead adopted an approach that relied on large hospital systems to coordinate vaccinations not only of their own staffs, but also of much of the population.

    In recent weeks, the governor has repeatedly made it clear that he believed he had no choice but to seize more control over pandemic policy from state and local public health officials, who he said had no understanding of how to conduct a real-world, large-scale operation like vaccinations…

    ….When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference on Friday, referring to scientific expertise at all levels of government during the pandemic. “Because I don’t. Because I don’t.”

    His comments reflected a rift between the state’s top elected official and its career health experts of the sort that has occurred across different levels of government during the pandemic. Former President Donald J. Trump warred publicly with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, as well as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio forced out the head of New York City’s respected health department over the summer. Around the country, frustrated and overwhelmed public health officials have resigned in large numbers….

    …The governor speaks regularly with Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota who served on a Covid advisory panel put together by President Biden, and twice a week with Dr. Fauci, the officials said. (Dr. Osterholm and Dr. Fauci declined to comment.)

    The governor’s vaccine planning team has consisted mainly of longtime advisers, including Larry Schwartz, a former top aide and deputy county executive in two counties who is now an executive at an airport concession company.

    In Albany, tensions worsened in recent months as state health officials said they often found out about major changes in pandemic policy only after Mr. Cuomo announced them at news conferences — and then asked them to match their health guidance to the announcements.

    Sammy Finkelman (e4c3a1)

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