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North America - United States - Church/State
Court won't hear appeal on Boy Scouts land rental
Washington, USA - The Supreme Court on Monday decided to let stand a ruling saying the Boy Scouts cannot lease city-owned parkland in San Diego because the group is a religious organization.
The high court refused to hear an appeal from San Diego-area Boy Scouts who have traditionally leased Balboa Park camp space.
U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled in 2003 that San Diego acted improperly when it leased 18 acres of camp space to the Scouts because the group is a religious organization. The judge said the lease violated federal law that prohibits the government promotion of religion.
The Boy Scouts say they have no theology and only hold the position that children should "do duty to God" to become productive citizens.
The American Civil Liberties Union had sued San Diego and the Boy Scouts in August 2000 on behalf of a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple, each with scouting-age sons. They filed the lawsuit after the City Council voted to extend the group's 50-year lease for another 25 years.
The Boys Scouts have been the target of preferential treatment lawsuits since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2000 that the group has a constitutional right to exclude openly gay men from serving as troop leaders and because it compels members to swear an oath of duty to God.
The group had received support from the Bush administration, which in March 2004 filed a friend of the court brief arguing that even though the organization believes in God and members take an oath to do their duty to God, it is not a religious organization.
The case is Boy Scouts v. Barnes-Wallace, 08-1222.
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