In a head-turning unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the City of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment's free exercise clause after it stopped cooperating with a Catholic organization.
Writing at SCOTUblog.com, Amy Howe summarizes the ruling is a victory for Catholic Social Services and two foster parents who said Philadelphia refused to make foster-care referrals because of their stance on traditional marriage.
The religious liberty law firm Becket argued the case in Fulton v Philadelphia.
"I am overjoyed that the Supreme Court recognized the important work of Catholic Social Services and has allowed me to continue fostering children most in need of a loving home," said foster mom and named plaintiff Sharonell Fulton. "My faith is what drives me to care for foster children here in Philadelphia, and I thank God the Supreme Court believes that's a good thing, worthy of protection."
"The Justices understand that foster parents like me share in the common, noble task of providing children with loving homes," said Toni Simms-Busch, also a foster mom and named plaintiff represented by Becket. "Our foster-care ministry in Philadelphia is vital to solving the foster care crisis and Catholic Social Services is a cornerstone of that ministry. The Supreme Court's decision ensures the most vulnerable children in the City of Brotherly Love have every opportunity to find loving homes."
"That is a great win for religious freedom when it comes to the ability of Christian organizations to not be forced to place children in same-sex households." says Diane Gramley of American Family Association (AFA) of Pennsylvania.
Gramley adds she was “shocked” by the 9-0 decision but is “very, very thrilled” at the ruling.
"It's a beautiful day when the highest court in the land protects foster moms and the 200-year-old religious ministry that supports them," said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, who argued the case. "Taking care of children, especially children who have been neglected and abused, is a universal value that spans all ideological divides.”