Washington – after a series of Historic victories in the Supreme Court In recent years, LGBT advocates were dealt a heavy blow this week when judges sided with a Catholic group مجموعة Refusal to consider same-sex couples as incubators parents.
While the outcome of the Philadelphia foster care dispute was not surprising, the unanimous decision has opened debate about its impact in other areas of the law where the First Amendment Protecting religion is in conflict with politics which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
One point advocates on both sides of the case agreed on: Fulton v. Philadelphia would urge a new litigation test when religious groups choose to treat gay Americans differently, and when they are prohibited from doing so.
“To date we have seen a series of Supreme Court decisions in favor of equality,” said Corey Cook, senior advisor at LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal. “But today it is clear that organizations that want to be able to discriminate against LGBT people… are trying to use religious freedom as a way to get there.”
Supreme court:COVID-19 cases spark battle between same-sex couples
Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia said that her religious views prevent her from examining same-sex couples as adoptive parents. The city of Philadelphia, which contracted with the Catholic group to do the work, responded by saying that all bail agencies have a non-discrimination requirement based on sexual orientation.
But in the opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts On Thursday, the court ruled that Philadelphia has Exceptions to the non-discrimination policy are allowed in other contexts. Because of this, the court concluded that the policy was not applied equally to religious and secular entities. This ultimately means that the city’s nondiscrimination rule cannot withstand the highest level of constitutional scrutiny of the court.
Roberts wrote to the court: “Philadelphia’s refusal to contract CSS to provide foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as adoptive parents…violates the First Amendment.”
In other words, if a law prohibiting discrimination affecting a church or religious employer excludes secular entities, it will automatically face a high level of scrutiny by the Supreme Court when applied to those religious interests. This is in line with a series of emergency court decisions over the past year that include capacity restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic that apply to churches and other places of worship.
In many of these cases, the court has held that because capacity limits included cut-offs for essential secular businesses, they could not be applied to churches.
“It’s been implicit in some of the things the court has been doing in recent years, particularly in these COVID cases,” said Richard Garnett, director of the University of Notre Dame Law School’s program on church, state, and society. “But I think they have a very clear statement about it [in the Philadelphia case] He is supposed to have been upheld by all the judges.”
“This is an important doctrinal development,” Garnett said.
The question for legal researchers and advocates is how much impact the decision will have outside of foster care. Could religion-linked hospitals be forced to perform sex reassignment surgeries through the state’s nondiscrimination policies on the case to sue in federal court, for example? What about religious schools that allocate dormitories on the basis of gender assigned at birth and not gender identity?
Several court observers described the ruling in the case as narrow because the judges refused to overturn a 1990 decision in which the court ruled that governments may impose restrictions affecting a religious entity as long as such restrictions are “generally applicable” to religious and secular activities. . If they had rescinded the decision, it would have been easier for religious groups to defy the laws.
James Essex, director of the LGBTQ and HIV Project at the ACLU, compared the case to a 2018 court decision exempting a Colorado baker from discrimination for refusing to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. This decision left unresolved the fundamental question of whether companies could refuse wedding services for same-sex couples.
“In Fulton, the court again ruled the religious claimant on narrow grounds and refused to establish a constitutional right to discrimination,” Essex said.
But Tobias Wolf, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said the decision in Fulton could have much broader implications if religious organizations begin to challenge any anti-discrimination law that does not include a specific exception for religious objection.
“The easier path for government agencies and policymakers would be to grant religious waivers whenever people request it, because the alternative is that there could be a constitutional claim when they build some discretion in running their programs,” Wolf said. . “They provide the tools with which preachers can get a good part of the way there.”
After a string of recent losses in cases in which LGBT advocates have come face-to-face with religious groups, Thursday’s decision drew cheers from religious freedom advocates who argued that the court had given too little attention to First Amendment claims.
“I think what the Supreme Court has done is a roadmap where they will first look at whether the government makes exceptions to other people and if the government makes exceptions to other people,” said Laurie Windham, senior counsel at Becket, a nonprofit law firm. Litigants who fight for religious groups, represent that you oppress the religious person?
Fulton’s decision comes nearly a year after the court issued a landmark decision Banning workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees. In this case, the majority of the court found that federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of “sex” also prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
It comes six years after the court authorized same-sex marriage in the Obergefell v. Hodges.
Meanwhile, appeals courts in Chicago, Atlanta, and Richmond have held that schools violate federal law when they prohibit transgender boys from using the same bathrooms as gender-consistent boys. The case for appealing those rulings Under consideration by the Supreme Court.
Thursday’s decision underscores the need for a response from Congress, Kristina Wilson Remlin of Children’s Rights Watch said.
“The Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling is narrowly based on the facts of this case,” she said. But it “leads home why we need to pass federal legislation to provide consistent protection against discrimination for all LGBT people.”