UPDATED 8:17 AM PT – Friday, June 18, 2021
The Supreme Court unanimously voted to protect a Catholic foster agency’s First Amendment rights. In a unanimous decision on Thursday, the high court ruled in favor of the group Catholic Social Services (CSS), allowing them to continue participating in Philadelphia’s foster care system. The city was attempting to exempt CSS from receiving contracts due to their belief of not fostering to same sex couples.
Lori Windham, a lawyer who argued on behalf for the Catholic foster agency, said Philadelphia violated free speech guarantees while demonstrating hostility toward the group’s religious beliefs. She said the decision made by the highest court in the land is a “common sense ruling in favor of religious social services.”
“We have certainly heard concern leading up to the decision and we heard the arguments in in the courts below, but I think that today’s decision, because it is unanimous, shows that the courts have really shown that there is a right way to do this,” Windham stated. “And that is to leave options open for religious agencies and those who want to partner with them, and so what I’m hopeful we will see is common sense solutions that leave room for everyone to be able to participate in the foster care system.”
The Supreme Court’s 9-0 Fulton decision rejected another instance of gov’t hostility toward religious freedom. Catholic Social Services has demonstrated for more than a century that religious beliefs motivate service to the vulnerable & merit protection.https://t.co/2CoKWN1VMQ
— Kay C. James (@KayColesJames) June 17, 2021
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:
“CSS only wishes to continue serving children in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs and the city refusing access to contracts would violate the group’s First Amendment rights.”
For more than a century, CSS has helped provide foster care services throughout the U.S.