Supreme Court Ruling
Leah R. Wolf (WOLF@CUA.BITNET)
Tue, 7 Dec 1993 11:03:44 -0500
Rick was interested in details about the Supreme Court's ruling on the belief
in God issue.
Here are some excerpts from today's Washington Post:
"The Supreme Court yesterday permitted the Boy Scouts of America to exclude
boys who refuse to express a belief in God. The justices rejected an appeal
by a 10-year-old who was barred from a suburban Chicago Cub Scout pack after
he said was an agnostic.
"The justices, in a one-sentence order, left intact a lower court ruling that
said the Boy Scouts are not subject to a federal law prohibiting discrimination
in public accommodations based on race, color, religion or national origin.
No justices dissented from the order.
"The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, had ruled that the
Scouts are not a 'place' of public accommodation, and even if the nationwide
organization were, it would be excluded from the federal anti-discrimination
law because it is a private club.
"Few federal laws cover clubs such as the Boy Scouts. Therefore, most chal-
lenges to the organization's rules have been brought under state laws, which
would not be affected by yesterday's order letting the 7th Circuit's ruling
"Even so, the ruling from the circuit that covers Illinois, Wisconsin and
Indiana is likely to be cited by the Scouts nationwide when anyone alleges
race or religious bias under federal public-accommodations law. That statute
does not apply to unlawful sex discrimination.
"Some state courts have interpreted broadly written state public-accommodation
laws to cover the Boy Scouts. In California, for example, the Scouts are
appealing a ruling won by two would-be Cub Scouts who do not believe in God.
"In an unusual move for a winning party, the Boy Scouts had urged the Supreme
Court to take yesterday's case of Welsh v. Boy Scouts of America and use it to
speak definitively about the Scouts' First Amendment rights 'to form an associ-
ation for the purpose of expressing, transmitting and reinforcing certain
values and beliefs, including religious ones, and to limit membership to those
who share those values and beliefs.'
"The 7th Circuit majority did not address any constitutional concerns after
concluding that the Boy Scouts did not have to comply with the anti-discrimina-
tion section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on public accommodations. The court
said the Scouts are not an 'establishment' or a 'place' of entertainment
within the meaning of the act.
"'Even if we were to agree for the purpose of argument that the Boy Scouts is
a public accommodation, Congress expressly excluded private clubs as the
Scouts,' the appeals court said.
Leah R. Wolf
Committee Chair, Pack 224
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City