Supreme Court to Hear Foster Care Discrimination Case
LFC argues that a license to discriminate hurts children
October 30, 2020
On November 4th , the Supreme Court will hear arguments in an important case that could allow
taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate against prospective foster parents who are
LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim or other religious minorities. At a time when 440,000 children are in
foster care, losing qualified foster parents would be devastating for children who need a loving
home, and could open the floodgates for further discrimination.
In 2018, the City of Philadelphia learned that two publicly-funded non-profit organizations it
hired to provide foster care services would not accept prospective LGBTQ foster parents,
claiming a “religious exemption.”
Philadelphia informed the organizations that they would no longer refer children to them
unless they complied with the non-discrimination requirements of their contract. One
organization, Catholic Social Services (CSS) continued to refuse and sued the City, claiming a
constitutional right to not follow the non-discrimination requirement.
After a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the City, CSS appealed to the Supreme Court.
What We’re Fighting For
Lawyers For Children joined other children’s groups and religious organizations, including Union
Theological Seminary and the NYC synagogue SAJ, in an amicus filing to argue that a license to
discriminate would ultimately hurt children, youth and families by:
- Allowing religious viewpoints to trump compelling protections that prohibit harmful
discrimination in public services impacting children
- Reducing the number of prospective foster parents
- Harming LGBTQ youth, a group that is disproportionately represented in the foster care
- system, by telling them they are not worthy of protection
Why is this Case So Important?
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of CSS, it could open the floodgates for more organizations
to discriminate not just in the context of foster care, but could create a license to deny services
to such as food banks and homeless shelters to not just LGBTQ individuals, but other groups
such as people of the Jewish, Muslim and Mormon faiths.
Fulton will also be one of the first cases to be heard by newly appointed Supreme Court Justice
Amy Coney Barrett, in a newly configured Court.