Judge Furious with CA Supreme Court Ban on Judges in Boy Scouts

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

The California Supreme Court, interfering in the affairs of the Boy Scouts, decided on Friday to bar judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts because of the organization’s “invidious” discrimination against gays, triggering an angry outburst from one judge and like-minded opposition from others.

According to The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, Judge John Vineyard of Riverside County, noting that he is Superior Court judge, a Scoutmaster, an Eagle Scout, and a Scout parent, snapped, “Those roles are not, and have never been, incompatible.

“The involvement of judges in Scouting reflects well on the judiciary and supports a widely respected youth organization with a rich and unique place in American culture,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The prohibition, which also applies to other youth groups, prompted opposition from San Joaquin County Superior Court Barbara Kronlund, the mother of a Boy Scout, who argued that the ban on judges would be an “infringement of my right to free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

California is not alone in banning judges from belonging to groups that decide membership on the basis of sexual orientation. 21 other states also have such a ban, but until last week it was the only state of the group to make an exception for nonprofit youth groups that are not religious organizations.

Openly gay appeals court judge Jim Hume in San Francisco told the court that allowing judges to participate in the Boy Scouts and other youth groups “incites distrust in judicial impartiality, demeans gay and lesbian judges and is offensive and harmful,” the Times reported.

104 California attorneys sent a letter to the court in May of 2014, arguing against the proposed ban on judges. Some of the comments included:

There is no compelling or even rational basis to justify an attack on a judicial officer’s First Amendment rights to freedom of association, speech, and free exercise of religion associated with membership in the Boy Scouts. 

The rationale language under the “Discussion” section of the proposed ban, Section 1B, is disingenuous and untrue. “Eliminating the exception would not have any effect on a judge’s family member who could still join or continue to be members of the BSA” is incorrect. A parent (judge or otherwise) is required to participate in Cub Scouts (i.e. mandatory to be present at all functions), and is expected as the child ages into Boy Scouts activities. 

This particular proposal, to me, is an embarrassing attempt to deviate from our California foundation of inclusion, tolerance and diversity. At its core, this proposal seeks to penalize judges, or those who would be judges, for doing that which they may believe to be both a good and an important contribution to society, i.e. help raise boys with good experiences and moral teachings as to personal behavior, including a commitment to follow the law, a development of personal discipline, an ethic of generosity in a society where there is much need, and loyalty to one’s God and country no matter what the particular set of beliefs might be. In the words of former President John Adams, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

This whole idea is absolutely disgusting. I cannot believe we have come to the point of considering the Boy Scouts a hate organization just because they hold certain moral beliefs. Boy Scouts made my husband the wonderful person and citizen he is today. Stop meddling with something that doesn’t need to be fixed!


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