- The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Christian foster care agency that refused to certify same-sex couples as foster parents.
- The Supreme Court ruled that Philadelphia’s refusal to work with the agency violates the First Amendment.
- The court ruling marked a win for religious liberty groups but didn’t overturn precedent.
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The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday in favor of a Catholic child welfare organization, saying the charity has a right to decline to place foster children with same-sex couples.
Catholic Social Services sued the City of Philadelphia after it informed private agencies that provided foster care services that it would not refer children to the agencies unless they agreed to nondiscrimination requirements.
Catholic Social Services argued that it had the right to opt-out of the nondiscrimination requirement, citing the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that Philadelphia cannot force the charity to certify same-sex couples as foster parents, saying the rule violated their First Amendment rights.
The case marks a win for religious groups in a case that pitted religious freedom against the rights of LGBTQ citizens.
Legal experts awaited Thursday’s decision to see if the Supreme Court would use the case to overturn the court’s Employment Division v. Smith decision. That ruling found that religious beliefs do not excuse people from laws and regulations that the government has jurisdiction over.
Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fulton v. Philadelphia case did not fall under the Smith decision’s purview as the city of Philadelphia’s foster care rules were discriminatory.
“This case falls outside Smith because the City has burdened the religious exercise of CSS through policies that do not meet the requirement of being neutral and generally applicable,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous opinion.