A new Supreme Court decision is paving the way for legal protections for religious freedom.
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court supported a Catholic Adoption Agency’s right to turn away same-sex couples.
In the case of Fulton v City of Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services (CSS) sued Philadelphia after being told not to exclude same-sex couples.
CSS believes in the Christian view that “marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman”.
Because of their religious belief, the group could not provide certification of prospective foster families in same-sex relationships.
Philadelphia in turn refused to continue contracting with CSS, violating the First Amendment.
In an astonishing 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court sided with CSS and found that Philadelphia did indeed violate the First Amendment.
Protecting religious freedom is a cornerstone American value, and I am pleased the Supreme Court upheld that founding principle today.https://t.co/Cd1SZPfdzT
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) June 17, 2021
BREAKING: Supreme Court unanimously rules the city of Philadelphia can't force Catholic group to certify same-sex couples as foster parents without running afoul of the First Amendment.
— Bloomberg Law (@BLaw) June 17, 2021
BREAKING: Supreme Court sides unanimously with Catholic Social Services in religious freedom casehttps://t.co/MXxlVRQpyi
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) June 17, 2021
This decision gives legal protection to those with religious objections to same-sex marriage.
It also sets the precedent for future cases concerning religious freedom.
The Epoch Times has more on the Supreme Court’s decision:
The decision comes in the case of Fulton v City of Philadelphia, in which Catholic Social Services (CSS) sued the city after being ordered not to exclude same-sex couples from certification.
In a 9–0 ruling, the high court found that the city of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment when it refused to continue contracting with CSS, which does not certify unmarried couples or same-sex couples as foster parents on religious grounds.
“The City’s actions burdened CSS’s religious exercise by forcing it either to curtail its mission or to certify same-sex couples as foster parents in violation of its religious beliefs,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion.
“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless the agency agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny and violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” the opinion noted.
CSS takes the view that “marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman” and believes that certification of prospective foster families is an endorsement of their relationship. It refuses to certify unmarried couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, or same-sex married couples, although it does not object to certifying gay or lesbian individuals as single foster parents.
The Supreme Court noted in the opinion that no same-sex couple has ever sought certification from CSS and if one did, then it would be directed to one of more than 20 other foster agencies in Philadelphia that do certify same-sex couples.
“For over 50 years, CSS successfully contracted with the City to provide foster care services while holding to these beliefs,” Roberts wrote, adding that things changed in 2018 when Philadelphia city authorities took the position that they would no longer refer children to CSS on grounds that its refusal to certify same-sex couples violated a non-discrimination provision in its contract with the city.
“The contractual non-discrimination requirement burdens CSS’s religious exercise and is not generally applicable, so it is subject to ‘the most rigorous of scrutiny,’” Roberts wrote in the opinion. A government policy can only meet the “most rigorous of scrutiny” condition if it is narrowly tailored to achieve “compelling interests,” which the Supreme Court determined it did not.
With the decision, the Supreme Court is carving out legal protections for people with religious objections to same-sex marriage.
The case drew the attention of the Trump administration, which backed CSS in its lawsuit as a so-called friend of the court. The Trump-era Justice Department filed an amicus brief, in which it argued that Philadelphia’s actions had “impermissibly discriminated against religious exercise” and shown “unconstitutional hostility toward Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs.”
The Supreme Court’s decision is a great win for religious freedom!
A historic win for religious liberty. https://t.co/cpjoLFPvY8
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) June 17, 2021
It’s not only a win for religious freedom, but for the children who can be helped by CSS.
Faithwire has more on groups celebrating this decision from the Supreme Court:
The Christian Alliance for Orphans is applauding the ruling. “This Fulton ruling means that people of diverse convictions can still serve side by side for the good of vulnerable children in our communities,” said President Jedd Medefind in a statement. “Even in very difficult issues, we can find solutions that work for all. That means more welcoming homes for the 400,000+ children in foster care.”
The Christian Alliance for Orphans is a coalition of 190 Christian organizations and over 650 churches, helping Christians to live out the Bible’s call to care for orphans and vulnerable children.
The Philadelphia Inquirer notes how one of the plantiffs, Sharonell Fulton, was “overjoyed” by the Supreme Court’s decision:
Sharonell Fulton, a foster parent with CSS who as one of the plaintiffs gave the case its name, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, said she was “overjoyed.”
“My faith is what drives me to care for foster children,” she said. “And I thank God the Supreme Court believes that’s a good thing.”
Instead of celebrating religious freedom, the mainstream media is playing this as an attack on the gay community.
— Brett Akagi (@bakagi) June 17, 2021
The Supreme Court protecting catholic organizations discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community is not only sad but morally questionable. If this were a Muslim group discriminating against women or non-Muslims, there’s no way this would have gone down the same way in court 🙄🥴
— Kendall (@knavv22) June 17, 2021
U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which could have lasting implications for gay couples looking to start a family. https://t.co/YXxe8BWOfl
— NBC Out (@NBCOUT) June 10, 2021
Reuters is saying that Catholic Social Services is “shunning” gay foster parents:
The U.S. Supreme Court embraced religious rights over LGBT rights on Thursday by ruling in favor of a Catholic Church-affiliated agency that sued after Philadelphia refused to place children for foster care with the organization because it barred same-sex couples from applying to become foster parents.
The 9-0 ruling, written by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, was a victory for Catholic Social Services (CSS), part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and represented the latest instance of the Supreme Court taking an expansive view of religious rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The justices decided that Philadelphia’s refusal to use Catholic Social Services for foster care services unless it agreed to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violated the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion.
Catholic Social Services argued that Philadelphia had penalized it for its religious views and for following church teachings on marriage.
In the ruling, Roberts wrote, “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.”
Conservative and religious advocacy rights groups cheered the decision – and the fact that the court’s three liberal members joined the six conservative justices – saying it will have a major impact on future legal disputes involving religious beliefs.
“This is a strong ruling in favor of religious freedom, especially for social services providers,” said Lori Windham, a lawyer for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the agency and three foster parents in the case. “The court recognized that it is not the government’s place to exclude religious agencies because of their religious beliefs.”
“I am grateful that we can finally rest knowing that the agency that has brought my family together can continue to do the same for other families,” said Toni Lynn Simms-Bush, who has served as a foster parent through Catholic Social Services and was one of the plaintiffs.
The justices decided that foster care certification provided by Catholic Social Services did not fall under the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance because it is a service not “readily available” to the public.
“It involves a customized and selective assessment that bears little resemblance to staying in a hotel, eating at a restaurant or riding a bus,” Roberts wrote.
The Supreme Court declined to take even-broader action in the form of overruling its 1990 precedent that upheld “generally applicable” laws even if they curb religious freedom. Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said the court should have overruled that precedent.
LGBT and other liberal advocacy groups called the ruling troubling but said they were relieved it did not go further.
“Foster care is a government function, and all governments have a compelling interest in ensuring their contract agencies, including faith-based ones, treat all children and families equally. And today’s ruling does mean, at least for now, that different-sex married couples have access to all city agencies, while same-sex couples do not,” M. Currey Cook of the Lambda Legal pro-LGBT rights group said.
Catholic Social Services, which has helped provide foster care services for more than a century, had said it would be compelled to close its foster care operations if it was barred from Philadelphia’s program.
Philadelphia in 2018 suspended foster care referrals to Catholic Social Services after a newspaper report about the organization’s policy against same-sex couples as foster parents, leading the agency to file suit. Catholic Social Services said Philadelphia’s action meant that available foster homes were sitting empty amid a foster care crisis in the city of about 1.5 million people.
The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019 ruled against Catholic Social Services, saying it had not shown that the city had treated it differently because of its religious affiliation. U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker in 2018 also ruled against the organization.
Eleven of the 50 states currently allow private agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a group backing gay rights.
However, Fox News is calling this a “powerful statement” made by the Supreme Court.
Which it is- especially since there isn’t a single dissent!
We have a clip of the story from Fox News below:
With this ruling, the Supreme Court has shown Americans should have the ability to express religious beliefs freely without consequence.
Regardless of the attacks from the left, this is truly a historic win for religious liberty.