1st amendment

Federal Jury: Philadelphia Can’t Kick Out Boy Scouts For Being Anti-Gay

Ruling against the City of Philadelphia in its attempt to get the Boy Scouts of America to start paying $200,000 to lease city-subsidized real estate it currently pays just $1 year for, in a unanimous decision a federal jury says the city cannot use the Boy Scouts gay discrimination as a reason to evict. Lawyers for the Scouts “expect U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter [an ex-Scout] to issue a permanent injunction that bars the Scouts’ eviction based on their anti-gay policy,” but worth noting is a clause in the city’s lease that allows them to evict for any reason.

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  • Brian Miller

    So basically, a private religious group that went all the way to the Supreme Court to insist that the First Amendment right to free association applies to it has won ANOTHER case — insisting that the First Amendment ban on taxpayer subsidies for religious organizations shouldn’t apply to it because it’s not really a private religious group.


  • Qjersey

    arrgh, it was a jury trial, of course they won.

  • Niall

    The federal case made no sense to me at all. There are no disputed factual issues. So why is a jury even hearing the case? Juries don’t rule on whether city policy is unconstitutional. Judges do that. Yet this bizarre federal judge – who has a long affiliation with the scouts – has done everything possible to thwart the eviction, including staging a meaningless jury trial.

    I hope the city appeals this promptly and at the same time moves to evict the scouts for fiscal reasons, which they are permitted to do under the lease.

  • Dan

    So all the other private religious groups should now sue Philadelphia for equal treatment – like the KKK and Jews for Jesus and all the other offensive groups.

  • El Brucio

    Well, the Mormons also have had 199,999 dollars a year saved in rent over the past several years in order to hire endless lawyers to fight the eviction.

    I hope that the city wins on appeal and also gets all of their lawyer fees refunded.

  • hyhybt

    How long is the lease? Surely they cannot be forced to *renew* it when it expires.

  • John K.

    @Qjersey: Exactly. I don’t even know why. I think this is a pretty clear question of law that is already settled. I think the judge may vacate the verdict, and if not, the city would win an appeal on the questions of law involved, which the jury butchered.

  • Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com

    William Boyce Mueller, the grandson of the founder of the Boy Scouts of America was gay and lobbied against the gay-hating policies of today’s Scout oligarchs.

    This is his gravestone across the lane from that of Leonard Matlovich in Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC:


  • Wayne

    Let me get this right: the Boy Scouts of America don’t want kids who “Have The Gay” but their official uniform includes a shirt adorned with brightly coloured embroidery, embroidered sashes and a scarf held in place by a sliding broach. Hmmm, nothing gay about that!

  • GayGOP

    @Niall: I am not a lawyer yet. I’ve yet to pass the bar, or be certified to be of good moral character, but from what I learned in Law School, I agree completely with your analysis. It makes no sense to have a jury. If the remedy is equitable, like an injunction, what I learned in school is that that is solely a bench trial issue. A jury is not supposed to hear issues of law.

  • Darren


    That scarf is actually not the neckerchief that boy scouts wear.

  • Niall

    @GayGOP: I have read every article I could find on this case, because I honestly could not figure out what factual issue it is that the jury was being asked to decide. As far as I can tell, the trial consisted of a lot of testimony about the benefits that the scouts provide, the involvement of the “gay lobby” in prompting the city to evict, and how hard it would be for the scouts to pay market rent. All of this is either irrelevant or not in dispute, or both.

    Philly needs to do a simple, clean eviction for the stated purpose of capturing market rent, and without any link to any scout policies. At the same time, it should appeal. They will win.

  • Dan

    Taxpayers in Philadelphia could also sue the city for violating their First Amendment rights by leasing a public building to a private religious group at taxpayer expense. And there are more taxpayers having their First Amendment rights violated by this lease than there are scouts. That would give the city grounds to evict. The gay issue has nothing to do with it; it’s the religous status of the scouts since they demand an oath to god for membership. There is no reason why non-Mormon and non-Roman Catholic taxpayers should have to subsidize the BSA which is a private religious organization controlled by LDS Mormons and Roman Catholics.

  • REBELComx

    The headline for this article is inaccurate. Even the first line of the actual article shows that. The lease the city has with the building would allow them to kick anyone out at any time for any reason they want. The decision here was for them to PAY RENT if they, as a non-profit, don’t adhere to the city’s non-discrimination regulations. City could still kick them out if they really wanted to.

  • Cam

    The fact of the matter here is that the city of Philledelphia is being forced to subsidize this group to the tune of $200,000 a year. So then the scouts shouldn’t mind if they lease the other part of the building to a strip club for $1 a year also.

  • Mr. Bill

    First, there is no “lease” with the city that can be enforced. The city council in 1928 granted the BSA the right to use of the land forever at $1 a year, and the BSA built the building.
    The national BSA is not a “religious” organization, but the organizations that use its programs are primarily churches. The Supreme Court ruled it was a “private” organization and could set its own membership requirements.

  • Argos

    @No. 16

    The BSA requires all boy scouts to hold a belief in ‘god’ as a prerequisite for membership, and that very much makes them a religious organization as far as I am concerned. The BSA consider nonbelievers to possess insufficient moral character to be a scout which tells me all that I ever need to know about them.

  • Michael

    Don’t overlook the fact that it was the city that cut the deal in the first place. The Scouts paid for the building and the city provided the land. Now, cash-strapped cities are grabbing anywhere they can. Money changes everything.

  • Niall


    The scouts spent $2.6 million on the building 15 years ago. They got nearly as much in a rent break last year alone. Over the past 15 years, they have probably received something like 10X the amount that they invested in the building – on top of the use of the building itself. This is a huge subsidy for the scouts.

  • ewe

    Basically this is straight male entitlement. Keep fighting!!!

  • BenR

    Does anyone know the facts of the law here? Did this case take place in a jurisdiction in which sexual orientation is a protected category for the purposes of discrimination?

    If discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not illegal in this particular jurisdiction, it’s hard for me to see how this case could have been decided otherwise. To say that it violates the separation of church and state is a pretty tenuous religious argument, because even though it’s clear that the Boy Scouts’ views are shaped and influenced by religious beliefs, it would be fairly difficult to demonstrate that in court in a convincing way.

    But I really have no idea what the issues in dispute in the case were. So I’m pretty much just talking off the top of my head (or perhaps out my ass) right now.

  • Niall


    Gay people don’t need the permission of a tranny to fight for their rights. The scouts issue is important because it is a valued institution that plays a positive role in instilling values of service and honesty in boys. Gay boys should benefit from that and gay men should have the opportunity to serve. And no boy should be told that a gay person is not “morally straight” as the scouts oath goes.

    If that is a “straight male” privilege, then so be it. I am sure that you and your band of gender warriors would have us spend all of our time, money and political capital on your bathroom access issues and to get taxpayers to go further into debt to cover the cost of your hormones. Fortunately, in spite of the “LGBT” cult, there are still a lot gay people who get that it is better to fight for equality in important societal institutions than to waste our energy on the bizarre demands of a few dozen trans activists or on an endless, bitter war against our own respective genders.

  • Eric

    Unfortunately, sexual orientation has yet to achieve the status of “suspect class” or a group that deserves special protection under the law. (This includes race, immigrants, gender, etc.) Therefore private groups, like the boy scouts, are still able to discriminate against those who are gay (or in the case of the boy scouts, atheists and agnostics as well). Though in Philadelphia, non-profits using public property are required by anti-discrimination to extend equal protection rights to gays. Yet, national laws still allow discrimination, which clearly violates the equal protection clause. However, conservative courts are using the religious freedom argument to uphold the right to discriminate against gays. It sickens me but this is the state of the law.

    It should also be noted that GayGOP is right (and good luck on the bar, its not as bad as people make it out to be, I found it much easier than expected.) Juries decide issues of fact, not law, and this was an issue of law. I live in the Philly area, and jurors interviewed seemed to indicate that they decided ” the city’s reason [for eviction] violated the local scout council’s First Amendment rights.”. Here is a link to a local report: http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=7516068

    Finally, Dan suggests that taxpayers should sue, but unfortunately there is no such thing as taxpayer standing. Though in a case like this you wish they could.

    The city may still terminate the lease for other reasons, however, it seems that it can not do it because a group violates local laws. It makes no sense. Though it should be noted that the Boy Scouts in Philly did allow gay members for some time, but the national organzation made them conform to national rules.

  • ewe

    @Niall: You are extremely insulting but because you obviously are not aware of that fact i will only say that we all go to the top of the mountain or none of us do.

  • Niall


    I am aware that trans activists use slogans like the one you just used b/c it serves their selfish purpose of subordinating the interests of millions of gays and lesbians to their own interests.

    But look, if you really believe what you say, then you shouldn’t be pushing for so-called “trans rights” unless and until there is universal healthcare, global wealth equality, and a free Tibet. Remember, either we all get to the mountain top or no one does.

  • declanto

    @ewe: @Niall: “You’ll find out when you reach the top, you’re on the bottom” Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”

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