A federal judge has denied the Bush administration's request to get involved in a case about whether the Boy Scouts of America should lose its lease of a public park in San Diego because of the organization's policy of barring gay men from membership and leadership positions. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division submitted a brief supporting the Scouts in a four-year-long court fight over a lease on Fiesta Island, a public park where the BSA runs a youth aquatic center. The American Civil Liberties Union contends the Scouts should be evicted. "The government should be fighting discrimination and not aiding it," ACLU attorney M. Andrew Woodmansee said.
U.S. district judge Napoleon Jones rejected the Justice Department's argument that the outcome of the case would affect another involving Scouts in Illinois, where the government is a defendant. In a ruling issued Monday, Jones also said the BSA was adequately represented and does not require the government's assistance. Civil Rights Division spokeswoman Casey Stavropoulos said Wednesday, "We are disappointed the government will not have the opportunity to be heard and participate in this matter." A spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts did not respond to messages left seeking comment.
Although Jones allowed the Fiesta Island lease dispute to proceed to trial, last year he found that the city acted improperly by leasing the Scouts 18 acres in another public park, ruling the lease was an implicit endorsement of the Scouts' "inherently religious programs and practices." Both sides will make arguments regarding the San Diego city park lease in court next month.