March 9, 2006

Calif. court backs liberal city over Boy Scouts

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Famously liberal Berkeley,
California can deny a berth at its marina to a Boy
Scouts-affiliated group because of the group's policy excluding
gays and atheists, the state supreme court ruled on Thursday.

In a unanimous decision, the California high court held
Berkeley is within its rights to demand a Sea Scouts group
affiliated with the national Boy Scouts abide by the city's
nondiscrimination policy in exchange for a free berth at the
city marina.

In contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 the Boy
Scouts may set membership standards that exclude gays and

The Sea Scouts may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to
argue its First Amendment rights are under attack by Berkeley,
said Harold Johnson, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation
representing the group.

"Berkeley has been given license to treat the Sea Scouts as
second-class citizens because they don't meet an ideological
litmus test," Johnson said.