Religious Freedom Win: SCOTUS Sides With Catholic Charity’s Pro-Traditional Family Views

Gabriel Hays | June 17, 2021
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Score one for the First Amendment. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling has provided a major win for one pro-traditional marriage Catholic charity, and a victory for religious freedom in the country at large.

SCOTUS sided with Catholic charity group Catholic Social Services against the city of Philadelphia, in the case Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia on June 17. The court ruled against the city for terminating the group’s contract to provide foster care in the city because they do not certify same-sex couples to be foster parents. 

All of nine SCOTUS members ruled that Philadelphia could not punish Catholic Social Services for certifying couples according to its religious beliefs. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his opinion that Philadelphia had violated the religious group’s first amendment rights by terminating its contract to provide foster care.

Roberts 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.”

Roberts’ opinion was joined by conservative Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh and three of the liberal Justices, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

What ended up being a unanimous win for the Catholic group, started as a complaint in 2018, when a The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Catholic Social Services’ policy of refusing to allow same-sex couples to provide foster care. According to The Washington Post, that report prompted Philadelphia city officials to stop “the contract with Catholic Social Services” because in their view “the agency’s actions violated the city’s anti-discrimination laws.”

Catholic Social Services sued the city following the contract termination, insisting that the move violated its First Amendment rights. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit unanimously decided that Philadelphia had every right to end the contract and did not view the action as violating the group’s First Amendment rights. 

As the Washington Post reported, the 3rd Circuit Court saw it as, “the city was insisting that those with whom it does business agree with its nondiscrimination policy.” Though Catholic Social Services claimed that the city’s decision forced it to abandon its religious views or be forced to give up its mission.

The group also noted that it had never been approached by a same-sex couple, and that other city contractors were happy to certify those couples instead.

In his opinion, Roberts added, “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.” Thank goodness for this unanimous victory for religious freedom.

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