Ahead of the ferocious confirmation battle that awaits Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s next term begins in October with a docket that includes oral arguments for a significant religious liberty case.
One of the most immediate cases to test the new makeup of the court will be Fulton v. Philadelphia, which is scheduled to be heard the day after the election.
The case involves whether a city can require religious adoption services to place children with same-sex couples despite their faith-based objections.
In March 2018 Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was informed that the city would no longer refer foster children to the agency for assistance because of its faith-based stance that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The city then passed a resolution calling for an investigation into religiously based foster care services, after a same-sex couple claimed they were discriminated against by a different faith-based agency.
As a result, Catholic Social Services, which has a 100-year history working with the city in adoption services and has placed thousands of children in homes, is barred from making new placements because it declines to recommend same-sex couples for the adoption of children.
Paul Clement, the U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush and a top Supreme Court advocate, and Eric Citron, a partner at Goldstein & Russell who clerked on the Supreme Court for Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Elena Kagan, weighed in on the significant impact Fulton v. Philadelphia can have on religious freedom.
In a recent webinar at the Heritage Foundation on the upcoming Supreme Court term, Citron called it “frustrating” to see such cases “arising in the courts because one would think that in a pluralistic society there is a way to accommodate people who … want to do good in the world without making a big issue of them needing a narrow exemption.”
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