SCOTUS To Hear Religious Liberty Case With Catholic Foster Care Agency

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Patrick Hauf Contributor
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The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a case regarding a discriminatory policy in Philadelphia that barred a Catholic foster care agency from placing children with new parents. 

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, centers around the city’s Catholic Social Services (CSS), which holds a traditional view on marriage. The city cited its discrimination policy to justify its decision to stop funding the CSS, which the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld last year.

The CSS has not prevented a child from finding a foster home in its more than century-long operation, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. (RELATED: ‘It Destroyed My Body’: Here’s Why This Former Trans Woman Regrets His Gender Transition)

The Becket Fund filed a preliminary injunction with the city in March 2018, which was rejected by the district court and later appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled against the agency in April and an appeal to the SCOTUS was made in July. 

“In many cities and states across our country, faith-based foster care and adoption agencies have been doing the important work of uniting children with forever families since long before the government was involved,” Becket Senior Counsel Lori Windham told the Daily Caller.

“Amid a nationwide foster care crisis, religious agencies continue to be some of the most effective at supporting and retaining families and placing at-risk children. Yet, despite their vital efforts, state and local governments are trying to shut faith-based agencies down to score political points.” 

Suing the CSS are Sharonell Fulton, who has fostered more than 40 children over the past two decades through the agency, and Toni Simms-Busch, a former social worker. 

“The City believes that the ruling from the Third Circuit affirming the City’s ability to uphold nondiscrimination policies was correct and will now prepare to demonstrate this to the U.S. Supreme Court,” a Monday statement from the City of Philadelphia said. “This case is ultimately about serving the youth in our care, and the best way to do that is by upholding our sincere commitment to the dignity of all people, including our LGBTQ community.” (RELATED: Critics Portray Pro-Life Advocates As Racists. The Founder Of Planned Parenthood Had A History Pro-Eugenics Comments And Targeting Black Communities)

The city’s shift against the Catholic agency appeared to begin in March 2018, when the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a story quoting a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who said CSS had not been asked to serve any same-sex couples, but that it holds the traditional view on marriage detailed in the Catechism.

Three days after the article was published, the city council demanded an investigation into discrimination by religious institutions and Mayor James Kennedy utilized the Commission on Human Relations to open an inquiry into CSS. The petition from the Becket Fund to the SCOTUS claimed that the CSS was cut off from foster care referrals “minutes” after meeting with the Commission on Human Relations, which said that “times have changed.” 

The mayor previously called the Archbishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia “not Christian” in 2016 for saying same-sex couples shouldn’t receive the Eucharist at Mass. (RELATED: Pope Francis Rejects Proposal To Allow Married Priests)

The SCOTUS will take up the case in October.