Monday, May 16, 2005

The Boy Scouts and The San Diego Litigation: A Must-Attend Webcast for Anyone Who Cares About The Constitution


This Wednesday. May 18, at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time, a panel of leading contitutional scholars including Dean Kenneth Starr of Pepperdine University School of Law, and Prof. Vikram Amar of Hastings College of Law, will debate the Constitution, the Boy Scouts, and the question of the Scouts' access to public land. If you have a computer with a high-speed connection, you can watch the debate.

The link to the Scouts' page with information on the live web cam feed is here.

What's this about? The ACLU argues that leases of parkland to Boy Scouts by the City of San Diego are unconstitutional. The Boy Scouts argue, on the other hand, that it would be unconstitutional for the City to refuse to lease to the Boy Scouts when it has more than 100 leases to other non-profit groups on similar terms. (For more background on the San Diego case, please visit BSA's legal issues website,

Here's how a BSA e-mail describes the discussion:

A panel of leading constitutional scholars, including Dean Kenneth Starr,
will debate "The Constitution and The Boy Scouts: Equal Access to Government Land and the First Amendment,” on Wednesday, May 18 from noon to 2 p.m. Pacific Time.

The public and the media are invited to attend the program or to watch and participate in the Internet. For those attending in person, lunch will be served free of charge.

The program is sponsored by the Federalist Society on Law and Public Policy and will be held at the Wyndham Hotel at Emerald Plaza 400 West Broadway, San Diego, CA, in the Crystal Ballroom. If you want to attend in person, you are asked to register for the event by calling (202) 822-8138 or by sending an email to

Specific cases affecting the Boy Scouts will be discussed, as well as the constitutional rights of charities to have access to public forums and government property.

The 90-minute program will be webcast live from San Diego, California, the site of important litigation between the ACLU and Boy Scouts of America. A panel of leading constitutional scholars will debate the issues from both the pro-ACLU and pro-Boy Scout perspectives:

Professor Vikram Amar, University of California Hastings College of Law
Professor Alan Brownstein, University of California Davis School of Law
George Davidson, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, BSA National Counsel
Professor John Eastman, Chapman University School of Law
Dean Kenneth Starr, Pepperdine University School of Law
Dean Daniel Rodriguez, University
of San Diego Law School (moderator)

The 90-minute webcast begins live promptly at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time (1:30 p.m. Mountain, 2:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Eastern). You will be able to send questions to the panelists during the program. To access the webcast, open your browser and go to this URL: You will need high-speed Internet access and either Windows Media Player or RealPlayer.
Take the time to watch this debate or listen in. Tell your friends about it. Scouting needs friends, and the public generally needs a broader understanding of the Constitutional issues surrounding Scouting these days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the dumbest things the ACLU does is attack the Boy Scouts. If I could think of one American institution that builds men out of boys, it is the BSA. Why doesn't the ACLU (of which, believe it or not, I am a member) believe in the BSA? I wish the organization's leaders would learn how to pick their battles better. 

Posted by Matthew Peek

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BSA operates its headquarters for a region covering nearly 9,000 miles of Southern California from the City of San Diego's Balboa Park - - paying one dollar a year rent for facilities where it employs twenty or thirty people to do the BSA's organizational business. Membership forms downloaded from these regional headquarters - - operated from offices owned by the City - - carry a Declaration of Religious Principle announcing that anyone who does not share the BSA leadership's theology about "duty to God" is incapable of becoming "the best kind of citizen." That theology led the BSA to ban a major denomination from its Religious Relations Committee in 1992, and to throw the denomination out of the BSA's Religious Awards program in 1998, because the denomination preached against discrimination, shunning, and exclusion. From Balboa Park, the BSA issues orders enforcing rules that those who do not share the its theology shall be shunned -- along with homosexuals who are ostracized on the basis that they are "not clean." The City of San Diego has, moreover, posted signs around the BSA's regional headquarters announcing that the City stands behind these policies, explaining that all this is a "joint operation" of the BSA and local government: "This property is owned by the City of San Diego and is being utilized for the benefit of general public through the joint operation of the city and the Boy Scouts of America." Now, it's true that the Boy Scouts are entitled to discriminate on the basis of religion, if they wish, and to ostracize others as spiritually "unclean" and as social inferiors - - or, "not the best kind of citizen," as BSA puts it. But the City of San Diego, as a governmental body cannot sponsor or endorse such activity, which it clearly has done in San Diego, thereby violating both the state and federal constitutions.  

Posted by Eric Isaacson

Friday, May 20, 2005 2:02:00 PM  

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