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While many people are focused on the election results, we urge you to keep an eye on the courts. A few weeks after the rushed confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett and amid the election, the Supreme Court began its new term and heard oral arguments in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case. A ruling against the city of Philadelphia could allow private agencies that receive taxpayer funds and provide services—such as foster care, adoption, homeless shelters, and others—to deny people based on religious objection.
In this particular case, the city of Philadelphia discovered that two agencies they hired to provide foster care services refused to consider or certify gay couples. One agency sued the city and claimed the Constitution gives it the right to not comply with nondiscrimination requirements. Fulton v. City of Philadelphia could open the door to discrimination against people based on religion, marital status, and sexual preference who seek to foster or adopt children. It could also lead to discrimination against folks seeking public assistance or services from private agencies contracted by the local government.
This case and the upcoming case about the Affordable Care Act underscore the importance of our judicial system in upholding civil rights. In the coming weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to continue confirming justices to lower courts across the country. These lifetime appointments, and the lack of diverse judges, will have a lasting impact on everything from abortion to voting rights.
by Camille Kidd, Policy Associate, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda