That said, the court’s dynamics can be complicated, and not all decisions break along predictable lines. For instance, while Chief Justice Roberts has lost his place at the court’s ideological center, his replacement, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump’s second appointee, values consensus and may turn out to be an occasional ally.
On Wednesday, Justice Kavanaugh issued a conciliatory concurring opinion emphasizing that he agreed with much of what Chief Justice Roberts had written in dissent.
“I part ways with the chief justice,” he wrote, “on a narrow procedural point.” That point — whether the court should act immediately, notwithstanding Mr. Cuomo’s decision to lift the challenged restrictions for the time being — was, however, enough to decide the case.
The majority opinion was unsigned, but Ross Guberman, an authority on legal writing and the author of “Point Taken: How to Write Like the World’s Best Judges,” said he suspected that its principal author was the newest justice.
“My money is on Justice Barrett,” Mr. Guberman said, pointing to word choices that echoed her opinions on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Among them, he said, was “the concession that justices ‘are not public health experts,’” and “the taste for ‘And,’ ‘But,’ and ‘show.’”
The unsigned opinion was mild and measured, which is also characteristic of Justice Barrett’s judicial work. It took issue with what it said were Mr. Cuomo’s unduly harsh restrictions, which had been challenged by, among others, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two synagogues, the latter of which had argued that Mr. Cuomo had “singled out a particular religion for blame and retribution for an uptick in a societywide pandemic.”
The majority opinion said less restrictive measures would work.
“Among other things, the maximum attendance at a religious service could be tied to the size of the church or synagogue,” the opinion said. “It is hard to believe that admitting more than 10 people to a 1,000-seat church or 400-seat synagogue would create a more serious health risk than the many other activities that the state allows.”
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