Supreme Court Unanimously Rules in Favor of Catholic Adoption Agency, Says City of Philadelphia Violated Its Religious Freedom

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of Philadelphia violated the religious freedom of Catholic Social Services (CSS), specifically the agency’s foster care program that does not certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless CSS agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” the court wrote in the syllabus of their decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority opinion in the Fulton v. Philadelphia case, stating that “CSS seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else. The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment.”

CSS not only refuses certification of same-sex couples as foster parents on religious grounds, the agency will not certify unmarried heterosexual couples either. Catholic doctrine teaches that the proper environment for the rearing of children is a household where the mother and father are married. Although a same-sex couple may be “civilly married,” the Church does not recognize these arrangements as real marriages.

The Supreme Court also unanimously ruled earlier this month that temporary protected status holders cannot become lawful permanent residents if they entered the US illegally:

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that an illegal alien’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) does not entitle him to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan, one of the court’s liberal justices, wrote the opinion for the Sanchez v. Mayorkas case. Federal immigration law only allows “lawfully admitted” people to become an LPR, but since Jose Santos Sanchez entered the US illegally in the late 1990s, he cannot become an LPR.

Sanchez came to the United States from El Salvador, with the federal government granting him TPS status due to “unsafe living conditions” in his home country. He is only allowed to remain in the US until those unsafe conditions persist.

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