In March of this year, the City of Philadelphia imposed a freeze on placements with Catholic Social Services after the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the adoption agency had a policy to not place children with same-sex couples.
Two months later, CSS, as well as several foster parents, sued the city on the grounds that the city’s actions had violated their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and free speech, according to the New York Times.
A federal judge ruled against the agency, reported Metro Weekly. Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that the city of Philadelphia can keep in place the policy that requires all foster and adoption agencies with which it contracts to abide by the city’s nondiscrimination policies.
CSS appealed this decision, said the New York Times article, asking that child placements be allowed to resume while the appeal moves forward. The court of appeals refused, which prompted CSS to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In CSS’s emergency application to the Supreme Court, the agency said it could face dire consequences, saying, “Without intervention, the city’s intake freeze will force Catholic’s foster care program to close.”
The Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit, without giving reason.
Three Conservative Supreme Court Justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., and Neil M. Gorsuch – said they would have granted the request. However, five justices are required to grant an injunction.
Philadelphia is not the only city to refuse to work with a catholic organization because of this issue. According to the Catholic News Agency, Catholic Charities, in Buffalo, New York, ceased adoption and foster care work due to nondiscrimination policies that violated their religious beliefs.
CSS claimed it is the victim of anti-religious prejudice and added that its free-speech rights would be violated if it were forced to certify that same-sex couples are fit to be foster parents.
The city responded to these claims, saying, “If it a government-contracted agency’s religious beliefs give it the right to offer government services only to those who meet its religious criteria, that would apply equally to an agency whose religious beliefs prevent it from accepting women who work outside the home or members of different faiths.”