Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously held that Philadelphia violated the free exercise rights of Catholic Social Services and two foster parents when the city failed to renew CSS’s contract because the Catholic organization refused to certify same-sex couples as foster parents.
While Thursday’s headlines proclaimed the decision, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a victory for religious liberty, in reality it represented yet another failure by the high court to definitely end the ongoing governmental targeting of faith-based organizations.
Here’s the Backstory to the Case
Since 1798, Catholic-affiliated organizations in Philadelphia have provided care to needy and orphaned youth. Until 2018, the legacy continued, with CSS acting as a state-licensed foster care agency for the city. As a foster care agency, CSS reviewed prospective families based on their “ability to provide care, nurturing, and supervision to children,” certifying for the state families it believed qualified.
Then, when a child needed placement in a foster home, Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services would send referrals to the various private foster agencies to determine whether any certified families were available. If so, the department would then place the child in the home of what it believed “the most suitable family.”
As the Supreme Court explained in its Thursday opinion, “CSS believes that ‘marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman,’” and “[b]ecause the agency understands the certification of prospective foster families to be an endorsement of their relationships, it will not certify unmarried couples—regardless of their sexual orientation—or same-sex married couples.” CSS, however, will certify gay or lesbian individuals as single foster parents and the agency places gay and lesbian children in foster homes.
For more than 50 years, CSS held these beliefs and successfully placed countless children with foster families. Also, during this time, not one same-sex couple sought certification from CSS, but had one, CSS would have directed the couple to one of the more than 20 other agencies in the Philadelphia that certified same-sex couples.
Nonetheless, in 2018, after a newspaper ran a story quoting a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia saying that CSS would not certify
Continue reading on thefederalist