Season 2, Ep. 02: Religion vs. Religion at the Supreme Court

Amanda and Holly break down the arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia

Nov 6, 2020

What’s at stake in the high-profile religious liberty case at the Supreme Court this term? Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman break down the oral arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia, which centers on whether a religious organization can apply its religious criteria to discriminate when operating as a government contractor delivering foster care services. They share four takeaways and speculate about what sort of decision we might see in the case. Plus, they take a look at how religion has been discussed in terms of voting this week, including problematic implications of a religious test for office.  

Segment one: What are the religious liberty issues at play in Fulton v. Philadelphia? (starting at 1:05)

For more on Employment Division v. Smith (1990) and the legislative response, visit

Holly mentioned this story in the Washington Post by Michelle Boorstein: Religious conservatives hopeful new Supreme Court majority will redefine religious liberty precedents

BJC has a page dedicated to the Fulton v. Philadelphia case:

Read BJC’s brief in the Fulton case at this link.


Segment two:  Four takeaways from the oral arguments (starting at 19:32)

You can listen to the oral arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia via CSPAN at this link.  

We played three clips from the arguments:

  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaking with Lori Windham, the advocate for Fulton (around 16:25 into the argument)
  • Neal Katyal, the advocate for Philadelphia, talking about how Fulton’s position can lead to religions being against each other (around 1:18:04 into the argument)
  • Justice Samuel Alito expressing outrage at government actors trying to impose their beliefs on religious actors (around 1:04:17 into the argument)

Learn more about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on our website:


Segment three: Religion and the election (starting at 44:56)

For more on the “no religious test” principle, read this article from Amanda Tyler, written in advance of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings.