The U.S. Supreme Court recently unanimously ruled that Philadelphia violated a Roman Catholic adoption agency's First Amendment rights when it dropped them from its approved list of adoption agencies.
Like many cities, Philadelphia contracts with private agencies to help care for and place children into foster care and adoption. But the city cancelled its longstanding contract with Catholic Social Services (CSS) in 2018 because the agency does not approve unmarried or same sex partners as foster parents.
The Catholic group says that certification of prospective foster families is an endorsement of their relationships. Therefore, it says it will not certify unmarried couples—regardless of their sexual orientation—or same-sex married couples.
Many other foster care agencies in the city will certify unmarried and same-sex couples as foster parents.
In its 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court determined that the city can not force Catholic Social Services to certify unmarried or same-sex couples as foster parents in violation of the group's its deeply held religious beliefs.
[Catholic Social Services] does not object to certifying gay or lesbian individuals as single foster parents or to placing gay and lesbian children. No same-sex couple has ever sought certification from [Catholic Social Services]. If one did, [Catholic Social Services] would direct the couple to one of the more than 20 other agencies in the City, all of which currently certify same-sex couples.Chief Justice John Roberts, U.S. Supreme Court
The court noted that [Catholic Social Services] does not seek to impose its beliefs on anyone else, but wants to serve the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its beliefs.
The decision is seen as a victory for religious liberty.