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Dale v. Boy Scouts of America

Boy Scouts Can Exclude Homosexual Leaders

Alliance Defense Fund - Boy Scouts Can Exclude Homosexual Leaders
Dale v. Boy Scouts of America

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Dale v. Boy Scouts of America affirmed that the Scouts can bar homosexuals from their leadership ranks. With the 5-4 decision, the High Court upheld the right to freedom of association.

The Court's ruling built on the five-year-old, ADF-backed 9-0 win in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, which held that veterans--a private group like the Boy Scouts--did not have to include radical homosexual activists in their private St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The Alliance Defense Fund helped fund and strategize the filing of key amicus (friend of the court) briefs on behalf of the Scouts in Dale v. Boy Scouts of America. The ADF-coordinated briefs focused on public accommodation laws, religious liberty, and the vast social impact of a wrong decision.

ADF also funded moot court training during which the Boy Scouts' lawyer practiced making his case under intense questioning by top attorneys.


In 1992 James Dale, co-president of the Rutgers University Lesbian/Gay Alliance, sued the Boy Scouts in New Jersey Superior Court, alleging violation of New Jersey public accommodation law when he was removed as assistant scoutmaster based on his sexual orientation. The Superior Court held that the Boy Scouts' status as a private organization protected their First Amendment right to remove Dale from Scout leadership.

However, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled in favor of Dale. The Appellate decision was also affirmed by the New Jersey Supreme Court, which ruled in August 1999 that the Boy Scouts' position barring an "individual who openly declared himself to be homosexual" from being a volunteer scout leader or registered unit member violated a state "anti-discrimination" law.

The Boy Scouts appealed the ruling to protect their First Amendment right to free association. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case on April 26, 2000, and handed down its decision on June 28, 2000.


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