The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered another unanimous verdict defeating the case of LGBT couples demanding Catholic adoption agencies open up adoptions to them, The Washington Times reports.
The LGBT lobby wanted to set a precedent. Score one for religious rights.
This is a high-profile case over whether Philadelphia could refuse to contract with a Roman Catholic adoption agency that says its religious beliefs prevent it from working with same-sex foster parents.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in an opinion for a majority of the court that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment by refusing to contract with Catholic Social Services once it learned that the organization would not certify same-sex couples for adoption.
“The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that ‘Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion,” Roberts wrote.
“As an initial matter, it is plain that the City’s actions have burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships inconsistent with its beliefs,” he added.
Roberts said that the city’s nondiscrimination policy was not generally applicable, citing Philadelphia’s ability to grant exemptions from it.
“No matter the level of deference we extend to the City, the inclusion of a formal system of entirely discretionary exceptions” in its standard foster care contracts “renders the contractual nondiscrimination requirement not generally applicable,” Roberts wrote.
The chief justice wrote that Philadelphia failed to show that it had a compelling interest in refusing to grant Catholic Social Services an exemption from its nondiscrimination policy.
“Once properly narrowed, the City’s asserted interests are insufficient,” he wrote.
Roberts acknowledged that the city had an interest in “the equal treatment of prospective foster parents and foster children.”
“We do not doubt that this interest is a weighty one, for ‘[o]ur society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,’” Roberts wrote, quoting the 2018 case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
“On the facts of this case, however, this interest cannot justify denying CSS an exception for its religious exercise,” he wrote.