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US Supreme Court rebuffs Catholic agency over same-sex foster care

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The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Thursday to force the city of Philadelphia to resume the placement of children in need of foster care with a Catholic agency that refuses to accept gay couples as foster parents.

In a decision that Catholic Social Services had said would force its foster care program to close, the justices refused the religious agency’s request for an injunction compelling the city to allow it to place children in foster homes while litigation over the dispute continues in lower courts.

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In the brief order that did not give any reasons for the decision, three conservative members of the court, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said they would have granted the agency’s request.

Five of the nine Supreme Court justices are needed to grant an injunction, but the court is one member short since Justice Anthony Kennedy retired at the end of July. The court is split 4-4 between liberal and conservative justices. President Donald Trump has nominated conservative federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy.

“We hoped for a different decision today,” said Lori Windham, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the agency. She said she was encouraged that three justices agreed with their position.

The dispute arose last March after the city suspended referrals with Catholic Social Services following a newspaper report on the agency’s policy to turn away same-sex couples.

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At issue is Catholic Social Services’ policy of refusing to perform home studies on same-sex couples to evaluate and certify them as foster parents, which it says would amount to a written endorsement of same-sex marriage, according to court papers.

The case underscores increasing tensions in the United States between advocates for religious groups seeking exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, and gay rights proponents who say such exemptions would be a license to discriminate.

Legal fights are brewing in several U.S. states over laws allowing private agencies to block gay couples from adoptions or taking in foster children.

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The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide in a landmark 2015 decision.

Philadelphia says that as part of its foster care contract with Catholic Social Services, the agency must follow a city anti-discrimination law, which covers sexual orientation.

Catholic Social Services, which is part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, filed suit in federal court arguing that the city had violated its religious and free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution.

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Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Peter Cooney


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The View audience goes wild when Meghan McCain and Abby Huntsman get schooled on democratic socialism

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Both conservatives on "The View" warned of the dangers of democratic socialism, but co-host Joy Behar drew a rowdy response with her impassioned defense of wealth distribution.

The panelists were discussing Sen. Elizabeth Warren's climb in the polls, and Meghan McCain speculated about the possibility of the Massachusetts Democrat heading into a contested Democratic convention with Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

"I happen to love Elizabeth Warren," Behar said. "I think she would make a magnificent president, and I think this whole talk about she's too far to the left is a lot of hooey, frankly."

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House GOP loses yet another incumbent as California’s Paul Cook announces retirement

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Another day, another retirement for House Republicans.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Rep. Paul Cook R-CA) is heading for the exits and retiring at the end of his term in 2020.

Instead of serving in Congress for another term, Cook will run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, the congressman's chief of staff tells the Los Angeles Times.

Even though Democrats made major gains in California during the 2018 midterm elections, Cook's district will be difficult for the party to pick up. Cook last year won reelection with 60 percent of the vote and his opponent wasn't even a Democrat, but fellow Republican Tim Donnelly.

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Strike on Saudi oil field likely launched by Iranian ‘proxies’ inside Iraq

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The drone strike on an oil field in Saudi Arabia on the weekend was likely launched by Iraqi militias affiliated with Iran, said France 24’s terrorism expert Wassim Nasr.

“It’s the most plausible version,” he said.

And it wouldn’t be the first time such strikes have been launched from inside Iraq by Iranian-backed forces, Nasr explained. Between April 2018 and July 2019, three reported interceptions or strikes targeted a Saudi pipeline running from the east of the Kingdom to the Red Sea, disrupting the transport of oil.

The technology was also evidently a Houthi missile based in Iranian technology, a Quds-1 missile that is a smaller and “better” version of the Iranian Soumar missile, Nasr said.

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