WASHINGTON -- The final ruling was made for the case Boy Scout for America v. Wayman Monday, March 9, 2004 -- the Supreme Court refused to hear the challenge to a lower court ruling that allows Connecticut to bar the Boy Scouts from a state-employee charity drive because of the group’s policy against gays.
The Boy Scouts were disappointed at the court’s ruling arguing that it’s unconstitutional discrimination.
"To exclude the Boy Scouts from a forum based on the values they hold and the conduct they require of their members is to exclude Boy Scouts based on viewpoint and identity," lawyers for the Scouts argued in their Supreme Court appeal.
"What the (lower appeals court) is saying is that government is entitled to make an organization that exercises its First Amendment right pay a price for exercising that right," said lawyer George Davidson, who represented the Boy Scouts.
"What if a church softball league wanted to get a permit to use a ballfield in the park for a couple of hours? The religious organizations to which most Americans belong have the same view of the morality of homosexual conduct as the Boy Scouts do. What happens to them?"
In May 2000, the Connecticut State Employee Campaign Committee denied an application of the Connecticut Rivers Council, a local chapter of the Scouts, to participate in the charity drive, saying that the Scouts’ policy violated the state’s gay rights law prohibiting the state from “becoming a party to any agreement, arrangement or plan which has the effect of sanctioning discrimination.”
The committee's decision was based on a ruling by the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which said the Scouts' policy of excluding gays from membership and employment violated the state's gay rights law.
Along with 900 other charities, including community service, advocacy, religious, and homosexual rights organizations, the Boy Scouts had been receiving about $10,000 annually from the drive for 30 years prior to its removal. The Boy Scouts has followed its policy of excluding "known or avowed homosexuals" as "professional scouters or in other capacities,” and its right to do so was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000.
Last year, when the Boy Scouts took legal action to protest its removal from the list, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state had not violated the Scouts' constitutional rights. But when the Boy Scouts appealed to the Supreme Court, the issue was centered around whether or not states could treat the Boy Scouts differently from other organizations because of its policy, rather than questioning the constitutionality of its policy.
Looking at yesterday’s case, an attorney from Michigan based Thomas More Law Center said the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Boy Scouts case has signaled a “disturbing anti-Christian trend in the nation’s federal courts,” Agape Press reported.
While the justices ruled the Boy Scouts had failed to prove Connecticut had applied its anti-discrimination statue in a discriminatory way, Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, feels that is exactly what happened. He thinks that the case is the first of “court-sanctioned discrimination.” He also referred to the case of Davey v. Locke, in which the Supreme Court last month ruled in favor of the Washington state saying it was no violation of the Constitution for the state to deny scholarship from a college student after he chose his major in theology.
"The Court's refusal to hear the Boy Scouts appeal, coming on the heels of its recent decision approving state discrimination against a Christian theology student, is evidence of a disturbing anti-Christian trend in the federal courts," Thompson says. "It suggests that the Supreme Court has taken sides in the Culture War facing our nation."
Thompson also criticized Connecticut officials for what he calls their "pandering to the homosexual agenda by punishing the Scouts for exercising their constitutional rights" and the Supreme Court for permitting governments to "to legally extort organizations and individuals" in attempts to make them give up their basic beliefs.
The Thomas More Law Center filed briefs in both cases arguing that the lower court’s ruling was threat to the First Amendment rights and freedom of association rights of the Boy Scouts and also to the constitutional rights of religious-based organizations that seek to “promote and preserve their organizational values, particularly with regard to the issue of homosexuality."
The Justice Department on last Thursday filed a brief in federal court in San Diego on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America regarding its lease of city parkland on Fiesta Island. The American Civil Liberties Union first sued the Boy Scouts in August 2000 to end two leases it says give the organization preferential treatment for use of city-owned land. The Bush administration sided with the Scouts in the dispute last week.
Also it is expected that a separate court fight from Berkeley, Calif., over Scouts' free use of public boat slips could end up at the Supreme Court.