American Civil Rights Union Defends Berkeley Sea Scouts
For Immediate Release
September 11, 2006
Contact: Hugh Newton
Washington, D.C. – September 11, 2006 – The American Civil Rights Union joined with former California state Attorney General and now Congressman Dan Lungren to file a friend of the court brief today in the United States Supreme Court in support of the Sea Scouts in Berkeley, California. The Sea Scouts are a subdivision of the national Boy Scouts of America.
Seventy years ago the Scouts gave away to the City of Berkeley 80 tons of rock and fill from a nearby Scout owned quarry to build the city’s marina and breakwater. In return, the City agreed to allow the Sea Scouts to use several berths on the marina free of charge. Today the program for free berths has been opened up to other nonprofit community service organizations. But Berkeley now excludes the Scouts because they teach traditional values such as belief in God and traditional sexual morality, and do not include as members and leaders those who reject these values.
The Sea Scouts sued the City on the grounds that their exclusion from the free berths penalized them for exercising the right to choose their own members and leaders consistently with the values they want to promote, as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000). The Scouts have so far failed to win this case in the California courts, but they are now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case on appeal from the California Supreme Court.
The brief from the ACRU and Congressman Lungren urges the Supreme Court to hear the case because the California rulings are in conflict with numerous Supreme Court precedents holding that individuals and organizations cannot be penalized for exercising their constitutional rights, and because the case presents questions of national importance. The brief states,
"The Boy Scouts of America is an organization run by parents and local community volunteers coming together to instruct young boys in the traditional moral values in which they believe. These values include the importance of maintaining faith in God and belief in traditional sexual morality. To call this activity discrimination is overheated hyperbole by those who simply oppose these traditional moral beliefs. The Boy Scouts do not discriminate. They engage in the teaching of traditional moral values, a constitutionally protected activity that a state may not prohibit or penalize.
Those with different beliefs have constitutionally protected rights to start their own youth organizations teaching their preferred moral values. But they may not use the power of the state to impose their values and beliefs on those who disagree….
Millions of Americans who believe in traditional moral and religious values are looking to this Court to uphold their constitutional rights and equal treatment under the law. For these reasons, the decision of the court below merits review."
The ACRU is a non-partisan 501c(3) legal policy organization dedicated to defending all of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment, not just those that might be politically correct or fit a particular ideology. Those setting ACRU policy as members of the Policy Board are former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III; former U.S. Solicitor General and former Federal Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Bork; former U.S. Solicitor General and now Pepperdine Law School Dean Kenneth W. Starr; former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Bradford Reynolds; George Mason Law School Professor Walter E. Williams; former Harvard University Professor James Q. Wilson; former Ambassador Curtin Winsor, Jr.; and Dean Emeritus of the UCLA Anderson School of Business J. Clayburn LaForce, Jr.