New York, NY, August 20, 2020 ... ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to reject a taxpayer-funded foster care agency’s claim that its religious beliefs entitle the agency to violate a local anti-discrimination law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, and other protected characteristics. The brief in the case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, was joined by a diverse coalition of religious, civil rights, and social justice organizations.
“Our Constitution’s religious freedom protections are a shield for faith, not a sword to discriminate against or harm others. In this case, a foster care agency that receives taxpayer funds is seeking to discriminate against same-sex couples. A ruling in its favor would harm LGBTQ+ people and undermine religious liberty by opening the door to discrimination against religious minorities,” said Joe Berman, Chair of ADL’s Legal Affairs Committee. “The Free Exercise Clause should not exempt any secular or religious provider from anti-discrimination laws or contractual requirements, particularly when taxpayer-funded services are involved.”
Applicable to both secular and religious entities, the local anti-discrimination law from which the foster care agency seeks an exemption prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, familial status, or domestic or sexual violence victim status.
ADL’s amicus brief asserts that the exemption from the anti-discrimination law sought by the foster care agency is not permitted by the Free Exercise Clause because the law is neutral toward religion and serves a public interest of the highest order – eradicating discrimination. Furthermore, such an exemption would violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by favoring the agency’s religious beliefs over the civil rights of others.
The brief was written by the law firm Arnold & Porter and it was joined by the following organizations: Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the Japanese American Citizens League, Jewish Women International, Keshet, the National Council of Jewish Women, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, People For the American Way Foundation, the Sikh Coalition, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Texas Impact and the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy.