Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Religious Freedom Case for Catholic Adoption Agency

Nov 3, 2020

Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Religious Freedom Case for Catholic Adoption Agency

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case which presents the question of whether a city may exclude a Catholic adoption agency from its foster care system because, in accordance with Catholic teaching, its policy does not allow it to license same-sex couples to be foster parents.
In March 2018, the City of Philadelphia informed Catholic Social Services (CSS) that it would cut off referrals to the agency and that CSS could no longer provide foster care in the city unless it changed its policy to not place children in homes of homosexual couples. CSS sued the City of Philadelphia, asking the court to order the city to renew its contract. CSS argued that its right to free exercise of religion and free speech entitled it to reject same-sex couples from fostering children.  
Both a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected CSS’ request for an order that would require the city to resume referrals to the organization. Both rulings cited the 1990 Supreme Court precedent Employment Division v. Smith, which permits laws that affect religion as long as they are neutral and generally applied. Fulton v City of Philadelphia gives the Supreme Court the opportunity to revisit, and potentially overrule, Smith, giving the Catholic agency a major religious liberty victory.  

News Sources:

Supreme Court hears arguments in Philadelphia adoption case

In Fulton, the Religious Liberty of Foster Care Providers Hangs in the Balance

Justices sympathetic to faith-based foster-care agency in anti-discrimination dispute
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