Magazu v. Dep't of Children and FamiliesAnnotate this Case
Plaintiffs, a married couple, filed an application with the Department of Children and Families for a license that would enable them to become foster and preadoptive parents. The Department denied the application because of Plaintiffs’ use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in their home. A hearing officer affirmed. Plaintiffs appealed, alleging that the Department’s decision was inconsistent with its regulations, was arbitrary and capricious, and was not supported by substantial evidence. Plaintiffs also argued that the Department’s decision impermissibly infringed on their right to the free exercise of their religion under the Federal and State Constitutions because physical discipline is an integral aspect of their Christian faith. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Department’s decision to deny Plaintiffs’ application was supported by substantial evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, and was based on a reasonable interpretation of its enabling legislation; and (2) the substantial burden that the Department’s decision imposed on Plaintiffs’ sincerely held religions beliefs was outweighed by the Department’s compelling interest in protecting the welfare of foster children.