The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a unanimous ruling on Thursday concluding that the city of Philadelphia was wrong to exclude a Catholic foster care agency that does not place kids with same-sex couples from the program.
At issue was whether Philadelphia officials were wrong in trying to force Catholic Social Services to follow discrimination rules that required it to place children with same-sex couples despite Church teaching labeling homosexuality a sin.
Known as Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the court's opinion was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, with multiple concurring opinions rendered by other justices.
“… the City has burdened the religious exercise of CSS through policies that do not meet the requirement of being neutral and generally applicable,” wrote Roberts.
“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.”
While many progressive groups denounced the decision, some, among them Americans United for Separation of Church & State, commended the high court for narrowing the ruling to just Philadelphia and CSS.
“The court concluded that because Philadelphia allowed individualized exemptions from its non-discrimination requirements in its foster care program, it had to exempt Catholic Social Services,” said Americans United CEO Rachel Laser.
“Significantly, the court declined to rewrite the First Amendment to grant a broad license to discriminate in the name of religion. The court also acknowledged the importance of non-discrimination laws and specifically respected the dignity of LGBTQ people.”
By contrast, many conservative organizations celebrated the ruling but some are are cautious about the court's narrow ruling. The following pages highlight reactions from conservative and Christian organizations and leaders to the Supreme Court ruling of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.