The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia is receiving a lot of mixed reviews.
Catholic Social Services filed suit against Philadelphia city for canceling their 50-year contract with the adoption agency over their religiously justified opposition to certify same-sex couples for foster care.
The Supreme Court ruled favorably for Catholic Social Services, having found that Philadelphia was violating the agency’s First Amendment protections.
Criticism of the ruling has to do with the fact that the decision was very narrow and technical, it doesn’t address broadly how religious liberty is understood today in a world where it is increasingly under attack from all sides.
Existing precedent says that First Amendment protections do not extend to counter laws which are “generally applicable,” meaning that they don’t specifically target religious concerns or interests. When a general measure happens to carry consequences for religious practices or certain religious, those protections can be violated.
In Philadelphia’s instance, local laws provide city officials with discretion to make exceptions to their nondiscrimination law. The Court used this clause to argue that the law does meet the standard of “generally applicable,” and so they were found to have violated the Catholic Social Services rights to free speech.
Justice Samuel Alito agrees with the Court’s decision, but disagrees with the narrow interpretation. He points out that the city could very well remove the clause which allows for exceptions in it’s law, and then overnight would remove the First Amendment protection of the Catholic Social Services.
It’s a tragedy that a fundamental right such as religious freedom has now become so entrenched and buried in the weeds of hair-splitting legalese.
Why is there a need to hire Harvard-trained lawyers to defend something so obvious. Of course the Catholic foster system should be permitted to apply their biblical values in guiding who they permit to raise and foster children.
Congressional Democrats are trying to shut down religious freedom, however, by passing their Equality Act, an act which would void and nullify the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration act.
If the Equality Act passes, religious protections will be lost, organizations such as Little Sisters of the Poor would be forced to provide abortion options, doctors and nurses forced to carry out abortions against their religious convictions, businesses forced to provide services for same-sex weddings, etc.
The Equality Act has nothing to do with equality, it has everything to do with ramming a LGBTQ agenda down Americans throats.
Author: Leona Padilla