The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union) — the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization — welcomed today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court upholding fundamental Constitutional protections for religious liberty. The 9-0 decision in the case of Fulton v. the City of Philadelphia held that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause by conditioning a Catholic social welfare agency’s ability to participate in the city’s foster care system on the agency taking actions that directly contradict its religious beliefs; in this case, being willing to place foster care children with same sex couples.
In ruling for the Catholic Social Service (CSS) agency, the unanimous Court, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts with many concurring opinions authored by other Justices, held that Philadelphia did not have a compelling interest in not providing CSS with a religious exemption to be able to contract with the city to participate in its foster care system while observing its religious beliefs to not place foster children with same-sex couples.
Ahead of today’s ruling in Fulton, the Orthodox Union once again urged the Supreme Court, through a ‘friend of the court brief’ it joined (see https://advocacy.ou.org/ou-amicus-brief-sharonell-fulton-et-al-v-city-of-philadelphia-et-al/) with other major American religious groups, to uphold religious liberty in this case.
Nathan Diament, Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy, stated:
“Today’s historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is of critical important to the American Orthodox Jewish community. As a minority faith community in the United States, the robust legal protection for religious practice is an existential issue for us. Today’s ruling in Fulton reinstates that robust protection at the constitutional level and thus more potently promises that Jews — along with Americans of all faiths — will have our religious practices protected from government interference.”
Mark (Moishe) Bane, Orthodox Union President, stated:
“Thanks to the blessings of the Almighty, the Orthodox Jewish community has been privileged to flourish in the United States where the promise of religious liberty animated the framers of the U.S. Constitution and the guarantees of that liberty embodied in the First Amendment. Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an essential step to make that promise of religious freedom a reality for our community and all American faith communities.”