Boy Scouts and ACLU lawsuit still ongoing

If you're scratching your head that this issue is still going on, you're not alone. It goes back to the year 2000.

First the facts.  The local Boy Scouts' lease is 16 acres in Balboa Park and another half-acre on Fiesta Island from the City.

The Balboa facility is a camp. Fiesta Island is a youth aquatic facility.

In 2000, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts as a national organization could ban atheists and gays under the right of free association.

The ruling prompted a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of an agnostic couple and a lesbian couple. In 2003, a federal judge in San Diego struck down the leases because they involved religious preference.

The Scouts appealed. The Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals took up the issue in 2006. And along the way, the California State Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court were asked to weigh in on narrower issues. Both declined.

Which brought the case back to the 9th circuit.

Last week in Pasadena, the Scouts and the ACLU faced off before the same three-judge panel that heard their appeal the first time around.

“The Boy Scouts argued that under the 'no aide' clause in the California constitution, the Scouts are not a religious sect or church, so the leases for the camp and the aquatic center do not violate the religious clause of the California constitution,” said Boy Scouts Attorney Scott Christensen.

Wednesday, Christensen said that the appeals court is aware of a State Supreme Court ruling that sectarian colleges cannot be excluded from state bond programs, which he feels bolsters the Boy Scouts' case.

The Federal Appeals Court will likely rule early next year.

The losing side will appeal, and ultimately the US Supreme Court will be involved again. Only this time, on the entire issue.

Experts say it's likely the case won't be resolved until 2013 at the earliest.

Categories: KUSI