Catholic agency files appeal in U.S. Supreme Court

Catholic agency files appeal in U.S. Supreme Court

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Attorneys for Catholic Social Services filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting an emergency order for the resumption of foster-child referrals from the city, even though CSS won’t place those children with same-sex couples.

City officials suspended the referrals in March after published reports about CSS’ anti-LGBT policies. CSS also won’t place children in homes headed by unmarried opposite-sex couples. City officials maintain such exclusion violates the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance because CSS was receiving city funding.

CSS claims the city is violating its religious-freedom and free-speech rights. While CSS’ legal challenge is pending in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, on July 31 the agency filed an emergency appeal for the resumption of city referrals with the U.S. Supreme Court.

CSS’ appeal has been assigned to Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who handles such emergency requests for the Philadelphia region. As of presstime, Alito hadn’t rendered a decision.
“CSS faces the irreparable loss of a religious ministry that it has grown and cultivated for decades and for which it has almost no hope of restarting, were it forced to close during this litigation,” CSS’ 47-page appeal states.

“The foster mothers similarly face the total loss of their religious exercise and the possibility that the children placed in their homes will again be harmed by being forced to move elsewhere. A temporary injunction [ordering additional referrals] costs the City nothing. But the lack of an injunction costs CSS, the foster families it serves, and the children they serve, everything.”

On Aug. 13, city attorneys filed a response to CSS’ appeal, emphasizing the city’s commitment to providing foster-care services in a bias-free manner. The city’s 36-page response also asserts that city officials don’t harbor animus against Catholicism. Moreover, the brief notes that CSS is expected to receive more than $18 million from the city in 2018-19 for youth-related services, apart from foster-care services.

Neither side had a comment for this story.

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