Boy Scouts of America v. Dale

If you are being watched, leave now!

  • Fairness in the Courts
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Joined Amicus Brief
2000

Determined whether the Boy Scouts of America have a constitutional right to revoke the membership of a scout leader for being gay despite state law prohibiting such discrimination in places of public accommodation.

Plaintiff was an Eagle Scout and long-time Boy Scout leader. He filed suit against the Boy Scouts after the local chapter revoked his membership in reaction to his identifying himself in a local newspaper as gay. He sued under the New Jersey statute that bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of "affectional or sexual orientation." The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Scouts are a "public accommodation" bound by the state's civil rights law. As such, the local chapter's adherence to the national organization's policy against accepting homosexual members violated the state civil rights law.

Legal Momentum joined an amicus brief that urged affirmance of the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision. However, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Scouts have a federal constitutional right to exclude gays from leadership positions, which in this instance trumped the application of the state civil rights law.