Legal Question Could Affect Scouts' Decision
The national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America has put off a decision on allowing gays as Scout members or leaders, and a legal question could be part of what's holding that up.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts of America are within their First Amendment rights to exclude homosexuals from membership or leadership. But Stan Rasmussen with the conservative Sutherland Institute says the situation could change if the national organization puts that option in the hands of individual Scout sponsors such as churches or civic groups.
"What they're saying to the local units is," Rasmussen explains, "'You can make that decision, but just understand, you don't have our backing. We're not with you. And, by the way, the Supreme Court protection goes away too.'"
University of Utah Associate Professor of Law Cliff Rosky says that reasoning is wrong.
"And if someone were to try to enforce an anti-discrimination law against that group," he says, "they would cite the United States Supreme Court case and that would pretty much be the end of the matter. I think the litigation costs would be minimal. The claim would be dismissed."
Utah's local Boy Scout councils were among 33 nationwide that asked the national board to delay its decision.