Supreme Court Rules Against LGBTQ+ Rights in Foster Services Case

  • Supreme Court Rules Against LGBTQ+ Rights in Foster Services Case

Supreme Court Rules Against LGBTQ+ Rights in Foster Services Case

Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley reacted Thursday on "America Reports" to the Supreme Court's unanimous decision that a Catholic foster agency shouldn't be banned from participating in Philadelphia's foster program because it excludes same-sex couples, calling it a "major decision for religious rights".

The justices wrote in their decision that "other foster agencies in Philadelphia will certify same-sex couples, and no same-sex couple has sought certification" from the foster care service.

"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", Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority 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 can not survive strict scrutiny and violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment".

The Smith rule, which looks to the goal rather than the effect of the law, is overripe for a revamp, Justice Alito wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion that was joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Gorsuch also filed a concurring opinion, which Thomas and Alito joined.

Over scores of pages, Alito hammered his point: the Free Exercise Clause demands more protection for religion against government than case law now demands.

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.

The Court ruled that Philadelphia's requirement for CSS to place children with same-sex couples did not fall under the public accommodations law as the city claimed. The reason this is so important is that these types of conflicts between anti-discrimination laws and the religious clauses of the Constitution are becoming more common.

Because of its beliefs, the Catholic agency also does not certify unmarried couples. The city asked the Catholic agency to change its policy, but the group declined. They're saying that you need to accommodate the religious values of these organizations, particularly when you obviously can do so. "Those efforts are rooted in an anti-Catholic bigotry that refuses to tolerate pluralistic views and beliefs", McGuire explained.

"The Court recognized that it is not the government's place to exclude religious agencies due to their religious beliefs and the court also recognized that the community is stronger and that more children are being helped when religious agencies are allowed to be part of the solution", Becket Fund senior counsel Lori Windham, who argued on behalf of the CSS, said during a press conference on Thursday.

"Yet we know there is more work that must be done to ensure that the best interest of the child is always prioritized, including through family reunification".

The case posed a clash between religious liberty and gay rights, but the justices - as they have previously when grappling with the same question - found a narrow way to resolve the dispute.

"The government can't single out people of certain beliefs to punish, sideline, or discriminate against them", Kristen Waggoner, general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said in a statement. And so now is the ideal time for the high court to address a religious freedom question that has been pending for years in Arlene's Flowers, the case of Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman.

The big Supreme Court rulings have finally arrived! "The Supreme Court's intervention is sorely needed to end this abuse of power".

CSS has had a contract with Philadelphia for over 50 years. Laws that interfere with religious beliefs should be understood as violating guarantees of religious freedom even when those laws are completely neutral and are not specifically aimed at religious practices, Alito argued.

Philadelphia Solicitor Diana Cortes called the decision "a hard and disappointing setback for foster care youth and the foster parents".