"US Supreme Court West Facade" by Matt Wade / CC BY-SA 3.0

At Supreme Court, Justices Consider Religion, LGBTQ Rights

Nov 4, 2020

By Nina Totenberg

The U.S. Supreme Court may be poised to side with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pits religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia. At issue is a Catholic charity’s refusal to screen same-sex couples as foster care parents.

While new Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not indicate which way she is leaning, other members of the court’s conservative majority did.

Seven of the court’s nine justices were raised as Catholics, including Barrett, and in the past five of them have pushed for an expansion of religious rights under the constitution’s guarantee to the free exercise of religion.

Wednesday’s case, however, involved government contracting — an area of the law where the court in the past has said that government is at the apex of its power to impose conditions. On one side is the city of Philadelphia, which has custody of about 5,000 abused and neglected children, and contracts with 30 private agencies to provide foster care in group homes and for the certification, placement, and care of children in individual private foster care homes.

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