Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BSA court case is headed in right direction

While not as good as I had hoped, a Federal judge ruled the Philadelphia council's case against the City has merit on First Amendment grounds.

The suit was filed in federal district court in May by Cradle of Liberty, the local chapter, just before the city decided to evict the Scouts from a rent-free building it owns on the Ben Franklin Parkway if they didn't fork over $200,000 in annual rent or agree to rescind their national membership policy.

The Boy Scouts' membership policy doesn't permit openly gay people in leadership positions, which the city said is discriminatory and violates its Fair Practices Ordinance.

The local chapter claimed in its suit that the city violated its First Amendment rights, engaging in viewpoint discrimination and conditioning its subsidized rent on giving up its right to associate with whomever it wants.

U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter said the complaint provided "sufficient allegations" to conclude the city's actions "may have compromised" the chapter's First Amendment rights.
This is certainly good news; while the judge ruled the Council was not entitled to compensation should the City prevail with it's eviction - and should the eviction go forward I do hope there's an appeal - their case on First Amendment grounds is certainly strong (see my take on the specific issue here)


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