This fall, in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, PA, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will determine whether a city government may condition contracts with the city for its foster care system upon compliance with the city’s antidiscrimination laws. Viewed most narrowly, the question presented is whether the plaintiff Catholic Social Services has a First Amendment right to city contracts, while disregarding portions of the antidiscrimination rules CSS deems inconsistent with tenets of their faith; in this instance, CSS objects to placing children with LGBTQ families. But broader questions have been posed, including a request that the high court revisit its 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that neutral laws of general applicability do not violate the First Amendment simply because they are inconsistent with an individual’s religious beliefs. What does the cert grant mean in this case? What are the stakes? And what does the Court’s reexamination of Smith mean in the context of the Court’s newer justices and its seemingly altered relationship to precedent?
Speakers: Praveen Fernandes (Constitutional Accountability Center); Diana Flynn (Lambda Legal); Ashwin Phatak (Constitutional Accountability Center); Rose Saxe (ACLU); Paul Smith (Georgetown University Law Center)
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