Cases & Advocacy

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia Amicus

Status: Open

Outcome: Pending

Location: Pennsylvania

Jurisdiction + Case Number: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, No. 18-2574

On October 4, 2018, National Center for Lesbian Rights, joined by a coalition of nonprofit public interest organizations, filed an amicus brief in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Catholic Social Services (CSS), a foster care agency, brought the lawsuit, claiming a constitutional right to discriminate against same-sex potential foster parents in violation of the agency’s contract with the City of Philadelphia and the City’s antidiscrimination ordinance. The district court denied CSS’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and CSS appealed.

NCLR’s amicus brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, highlights how the government’s interests in protecting children and eliminating discrimination converge in the child welfare system. The brief argues that the government’s interest in eliminating discrimination and bias, which is always compelling, takes on heightened importance in the child welfare context, in which children and families of color, parents with disabilities, and other groups are overrepresented in the child welfare system and experience worse outcomes. Bias at any stage in the child welfare system serves no child-protective purpose and undermines the goal of ensuring that state interventions protect the welfare of children.

On April 22, 2019, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of the CSS’s motion for a preliminary injunction. On July 22, 2019, CSS filed a petition to the United States Supreme Court to review the Third Circuit’s ruling. On February 24, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the Third Circuit’s ruling.

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