The U.S. Supreme Court issued a surprising unanimous decision this week in the case of a Catholic foster agency in Philadelphia that excluded same-sex couples.
In its decision this week, the nation’s highest court ruled 9-0 in favor of Catholic Social Services by finding that the city’s efforts to limit its contracts with the agency were unconstitutional.
“Cannot survive strict scrutiny”
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion on behalf of justices representing both sides of the ideological spectrum.
“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment,” Roberts wrote, according to a local NBC affiliate.
The decision came as a clear victory for religious liberty advocates and an apparent rebuttal of progressive trends.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) described the ruling as an important precedent for an issue that is sure to prompt additional legal battles in the future.
“It’s a pretty unequivocal statement I think that the court is going to look really closely…any time you have religious institutions or organizations that are being disfavored,” Hawley said, according to Fox News. “If they are treated any worse or any differently than a secular institution, the court’s going to strike that down.”
“Freedom from government harassment”
For Catholic Vote President Brian Burch and leaders of other faith-based organizations, the unanimous decision is a hopeful sign amid efforts by progressive activists to crack down on institutions deemed hostile toward LGBTQ individuals.
“Today, the Supreme Court rightly affirmed that the Constitution guarantees faith-based agencies freedom from government harassment and discrimination because of their religious beliefs about marriage,” Burch said.
Of course, the ruling was widely denounced by liberals in Philadelphia and beyond, including City Solicitor Diana Cortes.
“With today’s decision, the Court has usurped the City’s judgment that a non-discrimination policy is in the best interests of the children in its care, with disturbing consequences for other government programs and services,” she wrote.
In addition to establishing a potentially groundbreaking precedent on a divisive issue, this case appears to offer more evidence that the Supreme Court is still able to function as intended despite a conservative majority that many progressives describe as a threat to the nation’s judicial system.