Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing faith-based adoption and foster-care providers in New York and Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in support of a Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia.
The brief filed in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia argues the Constitution prevents governments from banning faith-based providers over disagreement about the meaning and importance of marriage. The brief also argues that, to prevent abuses by lower courts, the Supreme Court should reaffirm that government interests must be truly compelling to justify interfering with religious freedom.
“Every child in need of a forever home deserves the chance to be adopted or cared for by a foster family. That’s what it means to keep kids first,” said ADF Legal Counsel Chris Schandevel. “Now more than ever, we need as many highly successful adoption and foster-care providers as possible to keep their doors open. Shutting down faith-based adoption and foster-care providers—like Philadelphia is trying to do—means fewer children will have a chance to find a loving home.”
“Our First Amendment freedoms come first for a reason,” Schandevel added. “When people of faith can live out their faith, everyone benefits. And this case proves it. So when governments put politics over people because they don’t like a group’s religious message, courts have to right that wrong. The Supreme Court affirmed this in ADF’s Masterpiece Cakeshop case: It is not ‘the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive.’ These providers believe—as people of faith have believed for centuries—that married moms and dads provide the best homes for children. When governments shut them down because they don’t like that message, children pay the price.”
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“There is a national shortage of loving homes for our most needy children: those who have been neglected or abused and are now in state custody,” the ADF brief filed with the Supreme Court on behalf of New Hope Family Services and Catholic Charities West Michigan explains. “Yet government officials are driving away faith-based adoption providers because those officials dislike the providers’ religious beliefs about marriage. Purging these providers does not help a single child find a forever home. To the contrary, a diverse array of providers recruits more families, and faith-based agencies do some of the best work finding homes for hard-to-place children and those in large sibling groups. Ignoring this, officials have persuaded courts to overlook these realities—and the free-exercise rights of religious providers….”
“The Court should reaffirm that compelling state interests must be truly compelling to justify interfering with religious exercise,” and they “must be particularized to the state interests that an individual case actually implicates,” the brief continues. “The City of Philadelphia’s excuses for kicking Catholic Social Services to the curb do not come close to satisfying those standards.”