Supreme Court's COVID-19 cases stir up battle between religion, same-sex couples over foster care

The Supreme Court is set to rule later this year in a major case questioning whether Philadelphia can stop working with a Catholic charity that declined to screen same-sex couples as foster parents, Fulton v. Philadelphia. Some legal scholars say the recent COVID-19 disputes show the Catholic group may have momentum on its side. In nine cases since November, the high court has sided with churches and synagogues that sued over coronavirus regulations limiting the number of worshipers who can attend services.

Many believe that at least five, and maybe all six, of the conservatives will protect the Catholic Church from having to place children with same-sex couples or else losing its foster-care mission entirely.

One of the questions raised by the Fulton case is whether a government contractor like the Catholic foster care agency may object to anti-discrimination requirements – after all, they work for the government. But another question is whether the government must offer exceptions to religious groups if they also offer them to secular organizations. And that second question, several observers say, is where the COVID-19 cases may become relevant.

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