Legal Briefs

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale

By Erik S. Jaffe
June 1, 2000
James Dale served as an Assistant Scoutmaster until Boy Scouts officials learned that Dale had given an interview to a New Jersey newspaper supporting gay rights and admitting his homosexuality. Boy Scouts of America considers homosexuality to be at odds with its core values, and thus, upon learning of Dale’s sexual orientation, it expelled him. Dale filed a lawsuit claiming that he had experienced discrimination based on his sexual orientation, in violation of a state statue prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation. Cato’s brief, joined by the Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, the Texas Justice Foundation, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, the Independent Women’s Forum, and the Center for Individual Rights, argues that the New Jersey Supreme Court adopted an overbroad definition of “public accommodations,” compromising the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment rights. The Boy Scouts is not a “public” entity, but a private organization whose First Amendment right of freedom of association trumps any interest the New Jersey may have in preventing private discrimination.

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