The group, Catholic Social Services (CSS), claimed that "Philadelphia’s attempts to exclude the Catholic Church from foster care" violated the First Amendment. Lawyers for the city, meanwhile, said that CSS "lacks a constitutional right to demand that DHS offer it a contract that omits the same nondiscrimination requirement every other FFCA must follow when performing services for the City."
In a 9-0 ruling, the justices sided with Catholic Social Services. "CSS seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion. "The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment."
Roberts was met in his mind by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett herself wrote a concurring opinion, which was met entirely by Kavanaugh and partially by Breyer.
"As the Court’s opinion today explains, the government contract at issue provides for individualized exemptions from its nondiscrimination rule, thus triggering strict scrutiny," Barrett wrote. "And all nine Justices agree that the City cannot satisfy strict scrutiny."
Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion that was accompanied by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Gorsuch wrote a concurrence that Thomas and Alito joined.
The consistent ruling on such a hot-button issue comes as many on the left are calling for the packing of the Supreme Court and some on the right are saying the court is rejecting those calls through a series of unanimous or nearly-unanimous opinions.
The case will also be considered a massive victory for social conservatives, who say that it protects religious freedom.
"Today, the Supreme Court rightly affirmed that the Constitution guarantees faith-based agencies freedom from government harassment and discrimination because of their religious beliefs about marriage," Catholic Vote President Brian Burch said in a statement.
The ACLU, however, said that the court did not recognize "a license to discriminate based on religious beliefs."
"Opponents of LGBTQ equality have been seeking to undo hard-won non-discrimination protections by asking the court to establish a constitutional right to opt out of such laws when discrimination is motivated by religious beliefs," Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in a statement. "This is the second time in four years that the court has declined to do so. This is good news for LGBTQ people and for everyone who depends on the protections of non-discrimination laws."