Supreme Court declines to hear Lesbian couple's suit against Boy Scouts
A lesbian couple and an agnostic couple are suing to prevent the Boy Scouts from using public land. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the case, which returns to the Ninth Circuit.
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The US Supreme Court on Monday let stand an earlier ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the two couples. The couples object to Boy Scout policies that exclude boys and adults who are atheists, agnostics, or homosexuals.
In refusing to take up the Boy Scouts’ appeal, the high court action returns the case to the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit.
In that case, the court found that a former National Park Service employee had a legal right to file a lawsuit challenging the presence of the cross on public land as an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government.
But the court also ruled that a federal judge had been too quick to dismiss a congressional plan to convert the public land around the cross into a private parcel in exchange for similar land elsewhere. The court went on to say that not every display of a religious symbol on public land violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
The details of the case
In the San Diego case, a federal judge has ruled that a $1-a-year lease arrangement between the City of San Diego and the Boy Scouts for a Boy Scout-run campground and aquatic center violated the establishment clause.
The judge ruled that the Boy Scouts were the equivalent of a religious group, in part because the Boy Scout oath urges its members to do their “duty to God and [their] country.”
The Boy Scouts have been the target of a series of similar lawsuits seeking to drive the organization from public lands and public facilities because of its anti-gay policies.
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts had a First Amendment right to associate with like-minded individuals in a group that promoted certain religious and moral views – including that homosexuality was immoral.
Personal injury or contrived claim?
At issue in Boy Scouts v. Barnes-Wallace was whether the two couples had established a right to file their lawsuit by showing that the legal action was based on more than just a policy dispute.
Under federal court rules, a plaintiff in a lawsuit must show that he or she has suffered a concrete, personal injury rather that a mere difference of opinion.