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SCOTUS Finds Philadelphia Violated Catholic Foster Care Agency’s First Amendment Rights, While Preserving Limits on Challenges to Free Exercise Clause

Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the City of Philadelphia’s refusal to contract with a Catholic foster care agency that refused to place children with same-sex couples violated the agency’s rights under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. In so ruling, the Court declined the agency’s request to overturn the Court’s seminal 1990 First Amendment decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which held that litigants cannot challenge “neutral” and “generally applicable” laws under the Free Exercise Clause.

During Pride Month, it is a particularly important time to survey the legal landscape of issues involving the LGBTQ community. I invite you to read Michael Best's complete analysis on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case, at minimum, is part of a much larger respectful discussion this country must continue to have about protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination while accounting for religious freedoms.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, is a narrow ruling and essentially reflects a détente in the debate between balancing protecting religious freedoms and protecting individuals from discrimination. Nevertheless, Fulton portends an ideological clash over Smith and presents various immediate implications for governments and religious contractors.


litigation, l&e, government relations