USA. Harold Johnson co-counsel for skipper of the Berkeley Sea Scouts, issues statement Print E-mail
Monday, 16 October 2006
Sea Scouts news:


The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear PLF’s constitutional challenge to the City of Berkeley’s punishment and discrimination against the Berkeley Sea Scouts because of their affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.

Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Harold Johnson, co-counsel for the skipper of the Berkeley Sea Scouts, issued the following statement: “We are disappointed that the Court declined to hear a challenge to the City of Berkeley’s policy of punishing the Sea Scouts because they are not ‘politically correct.’ But we are confident that, eventually, the Court will take a case addressing the underlying issues, because there are too many examples of government discrimination against Scouting and other belief-based organizations to ignore.”

“Moreover, Berkeley officials should know that if they don’t stop discriminating against Scouting, they risk losing federal funds,” said Johnson. The federal Support Our Scouts Act of 2005 (see 42 U.S.C. § 5309(e)(2)) prohibits state or local governments that receive federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from discriminating against Boy Scouts or affiliated organizations.

“Congress passed this provision – and the president signed it – to address discriminatory policies like Berkeley’s,” said Johnson.

Berkeley excludes the Berkeley Sea Scouts from a program of free berthing for nonprofits at the Berkeley Marina. The exclusion is because the Berkeley Sea Scouts refused to sign a statement that would have had the effect of severing their ties with the Boy Scouts of America.

“The real victims here are the kids,” said Johnson. “Berkeley is charging the Sea Scouts more than $500 per month to use its Marina, while other nonprofits don’t have to pay. This discrimination against the Sea Scouts has put the organization in a financial bind, and a number of underprivileged kids have had to drop out. Berkeley’s punishment of innocent kids in order to make an ideological statement is unfeeling, unfair – and unconstitutional.”

Berkeley officials were retaliating against the Boy Scouts because of the BSA’s traditional values and membership policies – even though those policies are protected by the First Amendment, according to the United States Supreme Court.
Last Updated ( Monday, 16 October 2006 )
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