Supreme Court to decide if religion trumps anti-discrimination law in Philadelphia foster care case

Photo of Supreme Court to decide if religion trumps anti-discrimination law in Philadelphia foster care case

The Supreme Court—Donald Trump’s Supreme Court, the one that Justice Sonia Sotomayor says is “putting a thumb on the scale” in Trump’s favor—is going to hear a case that could open the floodgates for bigotry and discrimination.

The court said it would hear a case brought by Catholic Social Services against Philadelphia after the city did not renew a contract with the charity because Catholic Social Services will not place foster children with same-sex couples. “The city respects and values CSS's religious freedom, and its rights to hold whatever beliefs it holds about same-sex marriage," the city told the Supreme Court as it considered whether to take the case. "But the city is lawfully permitted to include nondiscrimination requirements in its city-funded contracts for city services, and it did so here for legitimate secular reasons.”

The Catholic organization predictably argues that placing foster children with LGBTQ families would violate its religious beliefs, and that it should be allowed to violate anti-discrimination laws in service of those religious beliefs. Even in doing contract work for the city of Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services insists, it should be allowed to discriminate. Because faith.

But no.

”The care of abused and neglected children in Pennsylvania is a public function. If CSS wishes to voluntarily contract with the city to assist in the discharge of that public function, the city does not burden CSS's First Amendment rights by requiring it to comply with key requirements bearing directly and exclusively on the administration of the city's programs—including the city's rules for who receives these taxpayer-funded public services,” according to the city’s lawyers.

Philadelphia already won at the district and appellate court levels, with a 3rd Circuit panel ruling that “has failed to make a persuasive showing that the City targeted it for its religious beliefs, or is motivated by ill will against its religion, rather than sincere opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” As a result, “The City stands on firm ground in requiring its contractors to abide by its non-discrimination policies when administering public services.”

Now we’ll see how far Trump’s Supreme Court will go to enable discrimination.

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