Boy Scouts in Court

May 2, 2000

Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments for what may be the most important case for them to consider this term. That is quite a statement given the fact that the high court has also considered cases involving abortion, prayer, criminal rights, and use of student fees in college. Nevertheless, I contend that the case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale will be the most important case this term.

Simply put, if the Boy Scouts lose, so will tens of thousands of other private, voluntary associations that organize themselves on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. If the principle put forward by the New Jersey Supreme Court is accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court, all distinctions and membership limitations will be eventually eliminated.

In the past, the Boy Scouts have been able to fend off what many call the "three-G cases." These are lawsuits brought by gays, girls, and the godless (atheists). In most cases, the courts in various states found in favor of the Boy Scouts, but not in New Jersey.

The New Jersey court argued that the Boy Scouts isn't the kind of "intimate association" protected by the First Amendment even though Scout troops usually number about 15-20. That sounds pretty intimate to me. The court also argued that the Scout Law's exhortation to be clean and morally straight doesn't apply to homosexuality. That's an argument that I think most people would have trouble making with a straight face. The court also argued that requiring the Scouts to appoint a homosexual scoutmaster isn't an infringement on their right of free speech.

None of the arguments seem compelling, but we will have to see what the U.S. Supreme Court rules. If they rule that the Boy Scouts must appoint homosexual scoutmasters, then the first of many dominoes will begin to fall.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.