The Supreme Court defied all expectations on Thursday when they issued a unanimous ruling in the favor of a Catholic run foster care agency, which was targeted by authorities in Philadelphia for it’s refusal to consider gay couples as adoptive parents.
The Court ruled 9-0 that the First Amendment was violated by Philadelphia when they froze the Catholic Foster Care group’s contract over their refusal to work with gay couples because of the agency’s belief that marriage and parentage should strictly be between a man and woman.
The dispute arose with Catholic Social Services — a group which receives taxpayer funding — when they refused to work with LGBT couples as foster care parents due to the agency’s religious objections to gay marriage. The policy attracted the city’s attention in 2018 after an expose by a local newspaper, and shortly afterward, the government froze the agency’s contract. The group was led to file suit against the city by longtime foster parent Sharonell Fulton, who has fostered over 40 children in more than 25 years.
The agency reported in it’s court brief that it had never yet been approached by a same-sex couple, nor turned away the same in it’s history.
The issue which the court was asked to consider was whether or not Philadelphia could force the foster agency (and others) into compliance with it’s non-discrimination law. The agency made the argument that it should be free to practice it’s religious principles regardless of the law and still be eligible for government contracts.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Catholic Social Services was only seeking an accommodation which allows it to continue serving Philadelphia children in a way that’s “consistent with it’s religious beliefs,” and was not attempting to “impose” their belief system on anybody else.
The ruling added that Philadelphia’s refusal to contract with the Catholic Social Services unless it came into compliance with their anti-discrimination law was in violation of the First Amendment.
The six justices which offered the majority opinion also added that foster care agencies are not considered to be public accommodations.
Author: Robert Castillo