Press Release • June 17, 2021

Supreme Court Issues Narrow Ruling In Fulton vs. the City of Philadelphia

The ruling importantly does not recognize a general constitutional right to discriminate based on religious beliefs.


June 8, 2021

James Michael Nichols | Equality NC |

Nate Fischer | Equality NC |

Raleigh, NC -- Today, the Supreme Court issued a very narrow and specific ruling in favor of a taxpayer-funded foster care agency in Philadelphia called Catholic Social Services. The organization sought a constitutional right to discriminate when it came to determining whether LGBTQ people had the right to foster or adopt.

However, this ruling is not a loss for the LGBTQ rights movement. Rather, the court issued a very specific ruling, one which found that Philadelphia violated the law because its nondiscrimination ordinance was enforced in a non-neutral way. The court did not recognize a general constitutional right to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

Kendra R. Johnson, Equality NC Executive Director, said today:

"LGBTQ individuals already face disproportionate barriers to lived equality and forming families. Today's ruling is heartening in the fact that it won't make that process more difficult, but our communities still need the protections that allow us to build full, rich and meaningful lives. No qualified LGBTQ folks who want to foster or adopt children should be denied that right, particularly when so many Black and Brown children are in need of adoption into loving, safe homes."

Chris Brook, Equality NC Counsel and former State Appeals Court Judge, said today:

"Fulton is a very narrow ruling. The decision turns on the nuances of Philadelphia's foster care program and is limited to the facts of the case. Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Court, is clear that Fulton is not about generally applicable civil rights laws such as those that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in restaurants, hotels, and other public accommodations."

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Equality North Carolina builds LGBTQ+ power through advocacy, education, and uplifting the stories of queer and trans North Carolinians in pursuit of racial and social justice.

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