The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down several rulings that are of importance to Texans and the State of Texas.
In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the Court ruled that Philadelphia violated the Free Exercise Clause when it singled out Catholic Social Services and excluded it from participating in a foster care program because its religious beliefs would not permit it to certify same-sex couples as foster parents. Philadelphia tried to rely on its citywide ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation to avoid the conclusion that it had discriminated against religion. The Court, however, held that this ordinance did not apply because foster care agencies do not act as public accommodations when certifying foster parents.
“Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision affirms what we’ve already known; that foster care and adoption programs should be focused on the interest of children, and those interests are not served when the government excludes faith-based organizations from participating based solely on their religious beliefs,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Cooperation between state and faith-based groups is fundamental to child welfare, just as is religious liberty to our Constitution.”
In California v. Texas, the Court concluded that a constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act should be dismissed because neither the private nor state plaintiffs had established standing to raise the issue. According to the Court majority, the state plaintiffs did not offer sufficient evidence that the individual mandate was enforced against them, or that it would harm them by leading more individuals to enroll in Medicaid. Though there is not a dispute that the ACA as a whole increases state healthcare costs, the Court held that the same costs would have been incurred due to other requirements of the Act. As a result, the Court held that the States had not established that the costs could be attributed to the challenged mandate for purposes of establishing standing.
In Sanchez v. Mayorkas, a unanimous Court held that someone who was never lawfully admitted into the U.S. was not eligible for Lawful Permanent Resident status even if he would otherwise have been eligible for a form of humanitarian relief known as Temporary Protected Status. The Court emphasized that in immigration law, “lawful status” and “admission” are not the same thing, and that gaining Temporary Protected Status does not mean that one was properly admitted into the country. In order to gain Lawful Permanent Resident status, rather, an individual must have both nonimmigrant status and have been lawfully admitted into the U.S.
In NCAA v. Alston, the Court unanimously ruled that antitrust law prevents the NCAA from restricting payments to athletes for education-related benefits. The Court determined that relaxing these restrictions would not blur the distinction between college and professional sports. It also said that while the debate around amateurism in college is important, it is not the Court’s responsibility to resolve it. Instead, the Court said its job is to determine whether the district court properly applied principles of the antitrust law to this dispute.