BREAKING: Supreme Court delivers narrow victory for religious freedom over LGBT ‘rights’
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a unanimous judgement in favor of religious freedom in a case which had pitted so-called homosexual rights against a Catholic foster care agency’s conscience rights. Meanwhile, conservative justices as well as pro-homosexual activists are characterizing the ruling as having no relevance for similar cases before courts.
In a ruling issued this morning, all nine justices sided with Catholic Social Services (CSS) against the city of Philadelphia in a case known as Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia had stopped referring children to CSS for foster care because CSS would not vet same-sex couples as foster parents, as the Catholic agency believes that marriage is a bond between one man and one woman. The question before the court was whether the actions of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment Rights of CSS.
Chief Justice Roberts, who delivered the opinion of the Court, wrote:
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.
Justice Alito noted that the city government had threatened the welfare of children awaiting placement in foster homes at a time when there was already an “acute shortage of foster parents,” and “went so far as to prohibit the placement of any children in homes that CSS had previously vetted and approved.”
“The City apparently prefers to risk leaving children without foster parents than to allow CSS to follow its religiously dictated policy, which threatens no tangible harm,” continued Justice Alito.
Today’s ruling is being hailed by many as an important victory.
“With more than 400,000 kids in foster care, we should be doing everything we can to support organizations that connect children in need with loving families. Discriminating against faith-based foster care providers because of their beliefs is not only unconstitutional, it makes it harder to get more kids into the safe, stable homes they deserve,” declared Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. “The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for religious liberty and for every child in the foster care system.”
“The decision today by the Supreme Court is a substantial win for religious liberty. In a time of growing hostility towards religion the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of this fundamental freedom is even more critical,” said Family Research council President, Tony Perkins in a statement.
“Increasingly, the Left refuses to tolerate the slightest deviation from their political orthodoxy regardless of who suffers as a result. While we stop to celebrate and thank God that the Supreme Court reaffirmed religious liberty today, we are fully aware and prepared for the attacks of the Left on this fundamental, God-given freedom to continue unabated,” concluded Perkins.
“The Supreme Court’s decision today is a great win for all children who are in need of a forever home. The staggering number of children in foster care demands an all hands on deck approach that allows for all people, no matter their religious beliefs, to open their homes and their hearts to a son or daughter who needs a family,” commented Leigh Fitzpatrick Snead, an adoptive mother and Fellow for The Catholic Association. “The state should not require foster care agencies to compromise, violate, or abandon their religious beliefs or identities as a condition of serving these children in need.”
A “wisp of a decision”
While clearly a victory for religious liberty in general, and Catholic social service organizations in particular, Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined in his concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch, warned that today’s ruling did not go far enough:
This decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops. The City has been adamant about pressuring CSS to give in, and if the City wants to get around today’s decision, it can simply eliminate the never-used exemption power. If it does that, then, voilà, today’s decision will vanish — and the parties will be back where they started …
Not only is the Court’s decision unlikely to resolve the present dispute, it provides no guidance regarding similar controversies in other jurisdictions. From 2006 to 2011, Catholic Charities in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D. C., and Illinois ceased providing adoption or foster care services after the city or state government insisted that they serve same-sex couples. Although the precise legal grounds for these actions are not always clear, it appears that they were based on laws or regulations generally prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And some jurisdictions have adopted anti-discrimination rules that expressly target adoption services.
Today’s decision will be of no help in other cases involving the exclusion of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies unless by some chance the relevant laws contain the same glitch as the Philadelphia contractual provision on which the majority’s decision hangs. The decision will be even less significant in all the other important religious liberty cases that are bubbling up.
LGBT organizations interpreting today’s ruling on behalf of religious freedom are echoing Justice Alito.
“Supreme Court in Fulton rules in favor of religious adoption agency, but on narrow grounds (specific to the City of Philadelphia contract),” wrote Shannon Minter in a tweet.
“A narrow decision that leaves existing law largely unchanged & creates no sweeping new religious exemption,” said Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
“The Court has emitted a wisp of a decision that leaves religious liberty in a confused and vulnerable state,” concluded Justice Alito in his 77-page opinion. “Those who count on this Court to stand up for the First Amendment have every right to be disappointed — as am I.”