Re: Benefits of Federal Charter
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAP.GWU.EDU)
Wed, 31 Aug 1994 23:31:35 -0400
Regarding your suggestion of an achilles heel - its probably better
described as a possible sprained ankle - potentially painful, but not fatal.
The Act incorporating the BSA does state that BSA shall have the power "to
make and adopt bylaws, rules, and regulations not inconsistent with the
law of the United States of America, or any State thereof, . . ." Your
argument is that single state could enact a law that prohibited
organizations from limiting membership with a anti-discrimination type
statute. On its face that gives the impression that a single state could
alter the rules of the BSA regarding membership. However, there is
another side to the law that you should be aware of in this situation:
1. BSA as a Federal Corporation is entitled to all of the protections of
the Constitution including the freedoms of assembly, religion and speech.
Any State statute attempting to abridge any Constitutional protection
would be found void and invalid.
2. Federal law takes precedence over State law as a general rule.
3. Even if a State Statute passed Constitutional muster, its
effectiveness would be limited to the bounds of the state enacting the
statute; e.g. a law passed in California would have no effect on BSA
programs in Nevada, similar to health and safety laws. A law purporting
to control a national organization beyond the boundaries of the state
would run into Constitutional and Federal Law problems and not have much
chance of surviving a Court challenge.
It would seem to me that it would be very difficult for a State to pass a
statute that would attempt to address membership in private organizations
without running afowl of the Constitution. And if a statute could pass
that hurdle, its effect would be limited.
Yours in Scouting, Michael F. Bowman, a/k/a Professor Beaver
Deputy District Commissioner Exploring, GW Dist., NCAC, BSA
Speaking only for myself, but with Scouting Spirit . . .
____ mfbowman@CAP.GWU.EDU ____
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City