The, Alliance Defense Fund, a group of attorneys affiliated with a number of churches that are fighting the city over their eviction from public schools, announced today that they have won a temporary restraining order and will granted a ten day reprieve.
“Churches help communities; evicting churches hurts communities. Empty buildings offer nothing to communities that need hope,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence in a statement. “The court’s order is a message of hope for fundamental freedoms in New York City because it means that, for the time being, the city must welcome churches as it does other groups. ADF will continue to fight this battle relentlessly until the city no longer unconstitutionally prohibits activity for purely religious reasons.”
According to the ADF, the restraining order gives the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York more time to fully consider the constitutional arguments “about the city’s unique-in-the-nation prohibition on worship services in vacant public school buildings on weekends.”
The city has maintained that they were simply following the dictates of the courts by demanding that the schools cease to worship in public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case on free speech grounds on Dec. 5 of last year. A bill that would compel the city’s Department of Education to allow the worship services passed the state senate this month and is awaiting action by the state assembly. Public Advocate–and potential 2013 mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has come down in support of the bill.
Mr. Lorence urged lawmakers to keep up with their efforts. “This order from the court in no way should stop efforts by the New York Legislature to overturn this policy. The courts have consistently ruled that the Constitution does not require New York City to ban religious worship services, so the city or the state legislature is free to repeal the policy.”
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