February 16, 2012
NYC Churches Get Another Two Sundays in Schools
District court awards temporary injunction.
Congregations affected by New York City's ban on worship in school buildings have already announced where they'll be meeting this weekend, but they could head back into the schools for at least another two weeks if they want to.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an injunction this morning barring the New York Board of Education from enforcing its worship ban for 10 days, effectively allowing congregations to continue meet in the public schools through the end of the month.
"The court’s order is a message of hope for fundamental freedoms in New York City," Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Jordan Lorence said in a press release. While Lorence continues to argue the churches' case before the district court, he encouraged efforts in the state legislature to repeal the ban to continue.
Earlier this week, Chief Judge Loretta Preska asked the city to delay its enforcement and work out an agreement with the churches. The city's lawyer, Jonathan Pines, said no. "This case has been litigated for 16 years,” he told reporters. “It's now time for it to come to an end and for the Department to be allowed to administer a policy that the appeals court found altogether constitutional." Pines additionally told Preska Tuesday that other groups have already filed applications to use the school buildings in the churches absence. "The hardship is entirely one of [the churches'] making," he said.