NASW Joins Two Amicus Briefs at Supreme Court

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NASW and several child welfare/adoption organizations participated in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia amicus brief that was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020.

The case came from a Third Circuit challenge to Philadelphia’s enforcement on nondiscrimination. It involves Catholic Social Services (CSS) suing Philadelphia after the city decided to stop contracting with foster care providers that turned away same-sex prospective foster parents.

The brief argues that “requiring states and cities to permit agencies to discriminate would create a significant barrier to fostering. Discriminatory policies will discourage some potential LGBTQ foster parents from ever contacting a foster care agency about the potential to foster children.”

CSS asked the court to reinstate its taxpayer-funded contract while also claiming it had the right under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution to discriminate. However, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Philadelphia should not be required to resume making referrals to CSS; was not motivated by any religious animus; and was not punishing CSS for refusing to adopt a particular religious view.

The brief asks the court to affirm the court of appeals’ judgment.

In another case, NASW joined an amicus brief led by the National Women’s Law Center, National Partnership for Women and Families, Black Women’s Health Imperative, American Medical Association, and 76 other organizations committed to women’s rights and racial justice. The brief was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting California’s defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California v. Texas, consolidated with Texas v. California.

In this case, a group of states led by Texas is attempting to dismantle the entirety of the ACA by arguing that the ACA’s “individual responsibility provision” was rendered unconstitutional when Congress reduced the tax for not having health insurance to zero as part of tax reform in December 2017. A coalition of states led by California and the U.S. House of Representatives stepped in to defend the ACA, as the former Trump administration had declined to do so.

The brief explains the devastating impact that striking down the ACA would have on women and their families — and particularly on women and families of color. The brief emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic and impending economic recession make the ACA’s protections even more critical for women’s health and economic security.

The brief explained how the ACA’s multiple protections against sex discrimination in health care have resulted in improved health outcomes and economic security for women and their families, and that Congress had no intention of discarding these protections when it lowered the tax for the individual responsibility provision in 2017.

These briefs can be found in the NASW Legal Defense Fund (LDF) amicus brief database.

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NASW Amicus Brief Database

The Amicus Brief Database was created by NASW Legal Defense Fund for NASW members and staff,  the Amicus Brief Database is a rich storehouse of legal information on a wide variety of policy and practice issues of concern to social workers and their clients.

Visit the Amicus Brief Database