In a 9-0 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with a Catholic foster agency in a dispute against the city of Philadelphia over whether it should be banned from participating in the city’s foster program because it excludes married LGBTQ couples.
The group, Catholic Social Services (CSS), claimed that “Philadelphia’s attempts to exclude the Catholic Church from foster care” violated the First Amendment while lawyers for the city said that CSS “lacks a constitutional right to demand that DHS offer it a contract that omits the same nondiscrimination requirement every other FFCA must follow when performing services for the City.”
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, “CSS seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else,”
“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment,” Roberts added.
NPR declared that “the court’s decision marks a revolution in the law, for the first time declaring explicitly that anti-discrimination laws, at least those meant to protect the LGBTQ community, play second fiddle under the Constitution.”
The court's decision marks a revolution in the law, for the first time declaring explicitly that anti-discrimination laws, at least those meant to protect the LGBTQ community, play second fiddle under the Constitution. https://t.co/4BhQjEZl9f— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) June 17, 2021
U.S. House Rep Jody Hice (R-GA), who is challenging embattled Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for his position, tweeted out his support for the ruling.
“#SCOTUS just ruled in favor of religious liberty yet again! No private institution should have to sacrifice its faith or morals to help the community,” Hice said.
Fox News reported:
Roberts was joined on his opinion by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Barrett herself wrote a concurring opinion, which was joined fully by Kavanaugh and partially by Breyer.
“As the Court’s opinion today explains, the government contract at issue provides for individualized exemptions from its nondiscrimination rule, thus triggering strict scrutiny,” Barrett wrote. “And all nine Justices agree that the City cannot satisfy strict scrutiny.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the Fulton decision was a “great ruling” that could have gone farther.
“It’s a pretty unequivocal statement I think that the court is gonna look really closely … any time you have religious institutions or organizations that are being disfavored. If they are treated any worse or any differently than a secular institution, the court’s gonna strike that down,” Hawley added.
Justice Samuel Alito also wrote a concurring opinion that was joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Gorsuch wrote a concurrence that Thomas and Alito joined.
The unanimous ruling on such a hot-button issue comes as many on the left are calling for the packing of the Supreme Court and some on the right are saying the court is rejecting those calls through a series of unanimous of nearly-unanimous opinions. Hawley, however, said he doesn’t think the ruling will “deter my friends on the left from their court packing agenda. They’re very committed to this. And it will probably make them mad at Justice Breyer, I suppose.”
The case will also be considered a massive victory for social conservatives, who say that it protects religious freedom.
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