California judges must steer clear of the Boy Scouts
March 18, 2015
The California Supreme Court has ruled that state court judges may no longer belong to the Boy Scouts of America. [NPR]
An existing law bans judges from belonging to groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation. The Supreme Court ruling rids a section of the law that has exempted participation in youth groups with discriminatory polices.
After facing years of pressure, the Boy Scouts recently reversed a longstanding policy prohibiting openly gay youth from joining the organization. But, the BSA still bans homosexual adults from serving as troop leaders.
The Supreme Court decision does not apply to religious organizations. Judges can still belong to any religious organization regardless of its discriminatory policies.
The ruling gives California judges one year to cut their ties with the Boy Scouts.
That irks some judges, like San Diego’s Julia Kelety who serves as a scout leader.
“The issue is whether individual judges can choose in their private lives to be involved in an organization that has tremendous qualities and provides tremendous support for young people,” Keltety said. “I don’t think a person appearing in my court would think that I’m biased or unfair simply because I help my sons out in their Boy Scout troop.”
Robert Glusman, the former president of the California Judges Association, said he supports the ban.
“Would a judge be able to join an organization where black men could not be part of the organization?” Glusman said. “I don’t think that would be as close a question.”