The United States Supreme Court appears likely to side with Catholic Social Services in a dispute with Philadelphia over the foster care agency’s refusal to place children with same-sex couples on the basis of faith.
On Wednesday, the court heard oral arguments about whether a nondiscrimination clause in city contracts violates the rights of religious organizations by forcing them to act in violation of their beliefs. The case may signal how the court’s newly expanded conservative majority will rule on questions of LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of religion, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
CSS, one of the city’s primary foster care agencies, believes it should not lose its contract with the city because its religious views prevent it from certifying same-sex couples as foster parents, the Inquirer reported. Philadelphia says it requires all of the agencies it works with not to discriminate.
With the addition of 1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump’s three appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — the Inquirer reported that the court seems likely to extend protections for religious objections to anti-discrimination laws.
Kavanaugh suggested the justices consider how to balance the “very important rights” to religion and same-sex marriage that the court has recognized, the Inquirer reported.
Several justices also brought up the fact that there is no record of any same-sex couple asking to work with CSS and being turned away, the Inquirer reported. CSS argued that if a same-sex couple did ask, they would be referred to another agency the city works with.
The case has drawn the attention of LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and the Trump administration. According to the Inquirer, the administration said that the city of Philadelphia has shown “unconstitutional hostility toward Catholic Social Services' religious beliefs.”