The City of Philadelphia ended its contract with a Catholic org who denied LGBTQ couples foster children. SCOTUS will hear the case next term, which begins in October.
February 25, 2020

On Monday, the Supreme Court announce it would hear the case of Fulton v. Philadelphia, the core issue of which is whether or not the government can end a contract with a religious organization because that organization engages in discrimination. Specifically, Philadelphia ended its contract with Catholic Social Services when it discovered that CSS refused to allow couples in same-sex marriages to foster children in need. CSS, of course, claims its discriminatory (and deeply bigoted) policy is based on its religious beliefs, and therefore exempt from government control/retribution. Philadelphia claims that there is no religious exemption from discrimination for the State or government, therefore, they cannot contract its work out to an organization that breaks laws the government is not allowed to break.

WILLIAMS: [The case] comes from the City of Philadelphia which ended the long-time contract with Catholic Social Services when the city discovered that the charity would not allow gay parents to enroll in the foster care program. Many contractors provide the service to the city to find homes for neglected and abused children. When that happened, Catholic Social Services sued, saying that it violated the religious freedom, so here's the question. For 30 years, the Supreme Court has said that there is no religious exemption from a law that's generally applicable. Now, an exception would be if a city or a state, or if somebody passes a law targeting a religion, but Philadelphia said that's not what it did. It was simply enforcing its anti-discrimination protection.

But this ruling has long been a target of conservatives, and so they're hoping that the Supreme Court, in agreeing to hear this case, will chip away at that 30-year-old precedent. Now, the importance of it is it goes much beyond gay parents acting as foster parents. There are a lot of cases around the country, since the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, of people who claim a religious exemption or religious objection to serving same-sex couples — in marriages, weddings, cakes, flowers, wedding invitations, videos, so on. So if the Supreme Court were to agree with Catholic Social Services in this case, it could chip away at that as well. The court will hear this case in its new term that begins in October.

Americans United For The Separation of Church And State agrees with Philadelphia, and put out a press release expressing its strong support. In it, Rachel Laser, president and CEO of AUSCS said the following:

“Philadelphia officials were right to end discrimination in their foster care system. The Supreme Court should affirm the city’s decision and make clear to all government officials that religious freedom is not a license to discriminate. It’s a new low when we see religious freedom being weaponized to harm vulnerable children. Religious freedom, as promised by the Constitution, means that we are all free to practice our religion, or no religion, as we see fit, so long as we don’t harm others.”

Of course, though, with the Supreme Court now sagging under the weight of two illegitimate Federalist Society justices, we can fairly well predict that they'll decide in favor of chipping away at that separation of church and state. Also, of course, they won't see the blinding hypocrisy, nor the pretzel logic of a religious organization that demands tax-exemption from the government, only to also accept lucrative contracts from the same government, and the right to defy that government's anti-discrimination statutes all at the same time.

That, friends, is what my people call chutzpah.

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