The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed likely to side with a Catholic social services and products agency in a dispute with Philadelphia over the agency’s refusal to work with same-sex couples as foster parents.
The case is a large test of devout rights on a more conservative court.
Catholic Social Services and products, which is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, says its devout views retain it from certifying same-sex couples as foster parents. And it says it shouldn’t be shut out of a contract with the city to find foster homes for children. Philadelphia says it requires the entire foster care agencies it works with not to discriminate as a part of their contract.
With the addition of three appointees of President Donald Trump, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, the court would seem poised to extend protections for devout objections to anti-discrimination laws.
Kavanaugh, for his part, suggested Wednesday there will have to be a way for Catholic Social Services and products to continue to work with foster families. The case, Kavanaugh said, requires the justices to take into consideration how to balance “very important rights” the court has recognized: devout rights and the correct to same-sex marriage.
“It sort of feels when those rights come into clash, all levels of government will have to be careful and will have to steadily, where imaginable and appropriate, look for ways to accommodate both interests in fair ways,” he said.
Even liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave the impression to recognize the court used to be sympathetic to Catholic Social Services and products. “Whether one wanted to find a compromise in this case, are you able to propose one that wouldn’t do real damage to the entire more than a few lines of laws which were implicated here,” she asked at one point.
The justices heard arguments in the case Wednesday morning, as it used to be still unclear if Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden had won the White House. Though the case in front of the justices used to be from Pennsylvania, a number of the battleground states that could prove the most important in determining who wins the presidency, there used to be nothing in the arguments acknowledging the ongoing contest.
The justices also said nothing approximately Trump’s commentary early Wednesday that he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It used to be unclear precisely what valid action he might try to pursue.
As they’ve been doing, the justices heard arguments in the case by telephone on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
All over almost two hours of arguments, several justices brought up the truth that there’s no record that any same-sex couple has ever asked to work with Catholic Social Services and products and been turned absent. Whether a couple did ask, they’d be referred to another of the more than two dozen agencies the city works with, Catholic Social Services and products says.
The justices, seven of whom are Catholic or attended Catholic schools, also asked approximately other hypothetical contracts officials might make.
Justice Stephen Breyer asked what would happen whether a devout association bidding on a transportation contract wanted women and men to take a seat one at a time, or women to wear head scarves.
“Whether there’s an agency that refuses to employ women, would the state have to contract with that agency?” Justice Elena Kagan asked at one point.
And Barrett, hearing her third day of arguments at the high court, asked approximately a hypothetical case where a state contract with a private Catholic hospital requires it to perform abortions.
The case isn’t the first in which a more conservative court has weighed the rights of LGBT individuals. Earlier this year, before Barrett joined the court, the justices by a 6-3 vote ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects homosexual, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. The opinion used to be written by Gorsuch, who said it used to be not likely to be the court’s final word on a host of issues revolving around LGBT rights.
The case before the justices Wednesday began in 2018 after a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter notified city officials that two of the foster care agencies the city contracted with would not work with same-sex couples. One of the most agencies, Bethany Christian Services and products, changed its policy.
Catholic Social Services and products did not, and the city stopped placing children with the agency, which sued. Catholic Social Services and products says it views certifying a circle of relatives to be a foster circle of relatives as an “endorsement of the relationships of those living in the home” and due to this fact its devout beliefs prevent it from certifying same-sex couples. It also doesn’t work with single couples.
The Trump administration has urged the Supreme Court to side with the agency, saying Philadelphia is unconstitutionally discriminating against religion.
Two lower courts sided with Philadelphia.
The case is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, 19-123.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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