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Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a high-profile case that could reshape the bounds of First Amendment protections for religion.

Why it matters: The direct question in this case is whether Philadelphia had the right to cancel a contract with an adoption agency that refused to place foster children with same-sex couples. It also poses bigger questions that could lead the court to overturn a key precedent and carve out new protections for religious organizations.

Details: The First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion, but that doesn't allow one to invoke religious beliefs to "ignore generally applicable laws," the Supreme Court said in a 1990 decision.

  • In this case, Philadelphia says its refusal to work with organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples is a "generally applicable" law — it applies to everyone, no matter their religion, and so there does not need to be a religious exemption.
  • The adoption agency, backed by conservative legal advocates, says the city's policy is not neutral, but rather is a specific intrusion on Christian organizations' ability to abide by their religious beliefs.

What to watch: The Supreme Court will not only decide who's right in this specific dispute, but has also asked whether it should "revisit" the underlying 1990 precedent.

  • Under Chief Justice John Roberts, people who come to the court claiming a violation of their free-exercise rights usually win.

The bottom line: The Roberts court's record, plus the fact that it's inviting a challenge to its own precedents, indicates that it's open to a more expansive view of religious freedom — which could ultimately weaken a host of other nondiscrimination policies well beyond Philadelphia's.

Go deeper

California to pay off unpaid rent accrued during COVID-19 pandemic

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California will pay off the accumulated unpaid rent that has piled up during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The move would fulfill a promise to landlords to help them to break even, while giving renters relief, the AP writes.

U.S. announces destinations for 55 million more COVID vaccine doses

President Biden at a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday announced a list of countries that will receive the remaining 55 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that the U.S. has pledged to allocate by the end of this month.

The state of play: The White House had previously named the recipients of the first 25 million of the 80 million doses that the U.S. has pledged to export, as it took its first step toward becoming a global vaccine supplier.