Sunday, July 15, 2018

Court Rejects Challenges To Foster Care Agency Non-Discrimination Requirement

In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, (ED PA, July 13, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court rejected Catholic Social Services challenges to the requirement that it not discriminate against same-sex couples in foster care placement.  CSS argued that the requirement violates the Free Exercise, Free Speech and Establishment Clauses of the 1st Amendment as well as Pennsylvania's Religious Freedom Act. The court refused to issue a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the requirement, saying in part:
CSS’s compliance with the terms of the Services Contract does not: constrain or inhibit CSS from conduct or expression mandated by its religious beliefs, curtail CSS’s ability to express adherence to CSS’s religious faith, deny CSS a reasonable opportunity to “provide foster care to children,” or compel CSS to engage in conduct or expression that violates a “specific tenet” of CSS’s religious faith....
CSS contends that the provision of certification services for same-sex couples would require CSS to express its religious approval of same-sex relationships in contravention of Catholic teaching about marriage. This is not the case. To illustrate this point, if, for example, CSS were to certify a couple where one spouse is previously divorced, CSS’s certification would not suggest that CSS approved of divorce as a religious matter.
Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the decision.