US Supreme Court Refuses to Force Philadelphia to Refer Foster Children to Catholic Charity

On August 30, The US Supreme Court denied Catholic Social Services its request for an emergency injunction that would have forced the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services to resume placement of foster children with the Catholic foster agency. The City Council of Philadelphia had ceased making foster-care referrals to Catholic Social Services in March, after the city learned that the charity was not placing children with same-sex couples due to its religious objection to same-sex marriage. Catholic Social Services sued the city in May, alleging that the city was violating its First Amendment rights to religious freedom. It lost in the federal district court and in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, prompting it to petition the Supreme Court for injunctive relief. Justices Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch would have granted Catholic Social Services its request but, following the Court’s denial, the case will head back to the Third Circuit for a hearing on the merits in November. Ken Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, stated that “based on deeply held religious beliefs,” the charity is not “able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union.”

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