Lawsuit Filed Against Cuomo Due to Sleepaway Camps Decision

Lawsuit Filed Against Cuomo Due to Sleepaway Camps Decision

New York - The Association of Jewish Camp Operators and Agudath Israel representing a coalition of camps filed a lawsuit in federal court in response to New York State Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker’s recommendation to Governor Cuomo which resulted in the Governor banning sleepaway camps from operating in New York State this summer.

The group is suing on four counts. Citing the fact that the Governor has created a de-facto exemption to the State’s “NYS on PAUSE” guidelines for the protests that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the group has shown that the Governor has bent the rules in favor of first amendment rights by the protestors which constitutes high-risk activity for the transmission of the coronavirus.

The lawsuit says that, “The need for Jewish overnight camps is particularly true this summer, after several months of shutdowns of the yeshiva schools, to provide for the structured Jewish learning and living offered by the Jewish overnight camps.”

The lawsuit continues, “While [Governor Cuomo] has strictly enforced his COVID-19 orders to enforce an absolute ban on overnight camps, without making any exemption for Jewish overnight camps, [Governor Cuomo] concurrently created an exemption from his COVID-19 orders for mass gatherings throughout the State of protestors of racial injustice. These exempted protests should raise greater health concerns regarding the congregation of individuals as do overnight camps, which demonstrates that the closure of all overnight camps infringes upon such practices because [Governor Cuomo] sees less First Amendment value in Jewish overnight camps than he does in the mass protests.”

Avi Schick – a lawyer from the prestigious firm Troutman Sanders LLP – will be representing the plaintiffs Association of Jewish Camp Operators, Samuel Werzberger, MD, FAAP,Ariela Orkaby, MD, MPH, Beth Statfeld, and Gail Zahtz in the case.

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