Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale

Case Name: Boy Scouts of America v. Dale

Year: 2000

Result: 5-4, favor Boy Scouts of America

Related Constitutional Issue/Amendment: Amendment I, Freedom of Speech

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties: Civil Rights

Significance/Precedent: The Court ruled that forcing the Boy Scouts of America to accept Dale, who professed to be homosexual, as a troop-leader would violate the Boy Scouts' freedom of expressive association. New Jersey had previously ruled in favor of Dale under the public accommodation laws. In the Supreme Court ruling this was overturned. The Boys Scouts had the right to deny Dale in order to prevent sending a message they did not agree with.

Quote from Majority Opinion: "The forced inclusion of an unwanted person in a group infringes the group's freedom of expressive association if the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints." 

Summary of Dissent: The dissent thought that banning Dale from being a troop-leader was a form of discrimination. They believed that allowing the Boy Scouts to ban Dale would lead to a host of other issues involving different types of discrimination. The dissent simply drew a line contrary to that of the majority.
Quote: "That such prejudices are still prevalent and that they have caused serious and tangible harm to countless members of the class New Jersey seeks to protect are established matters of fact that neither the Boy Scouts nor the Court disputes. That harm can only be aggravated by the creation of a constitutional shield for a policy that is itself the product of a habitual way of thinking about strangers."

Six-word Summary: Expressive association before public accommodation laws

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