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Church Urges Federal Court to Protect First and Second Amendment Rights of NY’s Houses of Worship

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March 20, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3.20.23
Contact: Peyton Luke, media@firstliberty.orgz
Direct: 972-941-4454

Church Urges Federal Court to Protect First and Second Amendment Rights of NY’s Houses of Worship
New York law insists religious leaders are less qualified than business owners to determine where New Yorkers may exercise their civil rights.

New York, NY—Today, lawyers for His Tabernacle Family Church urged the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reject the state of New York’s prohibition on firearms in houses of worship.  First Liberty Institute and the law firms Clement & Murphy PLLC and Ganguly Brothers PLLC filed the lawsuit on behalf of His Tabernacle, a nondenominational church in Horseheads, New York, founded by Pastor Micheal Spencer.  The court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law in December which the state of New York appealed in January of 2023.

Erin Murphy, Partner at Clement & Murphy, who argued before the court today on behalf of His Tabernacle, said, “New York’s prohibition on churches making their own decisions about firearms is inconsistent with the nation’s historical tradition of protecting an individual’s right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home.”

“The Constitution protects the free exercise of religion and the right to bear arms in self-defense.  New York’s law violates both,” added Jordan Pratt, Senior Counsel at First Liberty Institute.

In late 2020, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, chiding New York for singling out religious groups and restricting how they worship in violation of the First Amendment.  And in June 2022, the Court issued its opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, invalidating New York’s unprecedented effort to suppress the Second Amendment right to carry a firearm outside the home.  Just days later, New York enacted expansive new laws that defy both of those rulings by establishing a total ban on carrying firearms in houses of worship.  New York now imposes criminal liability on any person who carries a firearm into a place of worship regardless of whether that person possesses a license to carry a firearm under New York law, and regardless of whether the religious community would prefer to authorize congregants to carry a firearm.

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To arrange an interview, contact Peyton Luke at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4454.

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