California High Court May Ban Judges Affiliated With Boy Scouts

By:  Raven Clabough
04/22/2014
       
California High Court May Ban Judges Affiliated With Boy Scouts

The state of California is working to ban individuals from serving as judges if they are affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America because of the Scouts' policy of prohibiting homosexual troop leaders.

The move, which it has major legal implications, comes from the California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics. Various organizations are warning that such a decision could create a slippery slope by telling judges how they must think in order to serve on the judiciary.

In 1996, the California Supreme Court decided to prohibit judges from belonging to groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation but made exceptions for non-profit youth groups. The LA Times writes, "Efforts to change the policy in 2003 failed, but the court advised judges to disclose their membership in cases where it might be relevant and to be prepared to step away if a litigant questioned the jurist's impartiality."

The committee is now proposing to classify the Boy Scouts as a group that practices "invidious discrimination" against homosexuals. The online Daily Caller explains that doing so would "end the group's exemption to anti-discriminatory ethics rules and would prohibit judges from being affiliated with the group."

Last year, the Boy Scouts decided to allow membership of openly gay boys under the age of 18, but the group continues to ban gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders.

On June 28, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could not be compelled by a New Jersey anti-discrimination law to permit the inclusion of openly homosexual scout leaders. The 5-4 decision determined that to force the Boy Scouts to allow openly homosexual leaders would be a violation of the BSA's First Amendment right and that the government cannot force the organization to violate its own sense of morality.

What the California Judicial Committee is proposing ultimately disregards the Supreme Court ruling, and creates a slippery slope that could have a negative impact on judges who hold conservative affiliations or views.

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