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Commentary

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on First Religious Liberty Case Since Amy Coney Barrett's Confirmation

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Newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett already is being put to the test.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Catholic adoption agency’s discrimination lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia.

In 2018, the city ended its contract with Catholic Social Services because the adoption agency chooses not to place children with same-sex couples, which, according to the city, violates Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination rule.

In response, Catholic Social Services has sued the city, arguing that such a choice is within the organization’s rights to religious expression that is protected in the U.S. Constitution.

Now Barrett, along with the other members of the Supreme Court, will decide whether the city is in violation of the Constitution.

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During oral arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh indicated which way he is leaning.

“If a same-sex couple ever came to Catholic Social Services, Catholic Social Services would refer that couple to another agency that works with same-sex couples so that the couple could participate and be foster parents,” Kavanaugh said, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

“No same-sex couple has ever come to Catholic Social Services for participation in this program, and therefore Catholic Social Services policy has never actually denied any same-sex couple the opportunity to be foster parents.”

Justice Samuel Alito alluded to the same point during oral arguments, suggesting — as reported by The Washington Post — that this case isn’t about “ensuring that same-sex couples in Philadelphia have the opportunity to be foster parents” but rather “the fact that the city can’t stand the message that Catholic Social Services and the Archdiocese” are staying true to their religious and moral convictions about marriage.

Should adoption agencies be forced to place children with same-sex couples?

When it comes to Barrett, it looks as if conservatives in favor of upholding the Constitution aren’t going to be disappointed.

During Wednesday’s oral arguments, the newest justice extrapolated the case, recognizing that if Philadelphia were allowed to discriminate against Catholic Social Services in this instance, it could set the precedent for discrimination against additional religious institutions in the future.

“Let’s imagine that the state takes over all hospitals and says from now on … we are going to be responsible for hospitals, but we will contract with private entities to actually run them,” Barrett posited, according to The Daily Signal.

“And so there’s a Catholic hospital and it gets a contract with the city to run it. In fact, it’s a Catholic hospital that’s in existence before the state adopts this policy.”

“And its contract with the state provides that … you can get some exceptions for some medical procedures, but every hospital has to perform abortions.”

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It’s a good point: If our government continues to grow and eventually takes over hospitals, what would stop a similar mandate forcing religious-run hospitals to offer abortions?

This is a major religious liberty case that might have serious consequences.

If Barrett’s comments during oral arguments are any indication, the Supreme Court soon might prove that her recent confirmation did indeed tip the court toward a pro-Constitutional majority.

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Michael Austin joined The Western Journal as a staff reporter in 2020. Since then, he has authored hundreds of stories, including several original reports. He also co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."
Michael Austin joined The Western Journal as a staff reporter in 2020. Since then, he has authored hundreds of stories, including several original reports. He also co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."
Birthplace
Ames, Iowa




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