Boy Scouts Face Rent Trial in Philadelphia
BY Julie Bolcer
June 14 2010 10:50 AM ET
A jury trial gets under way Monday in Philadelphia to determine whether the Boy Scouts can continue to occupy a city-owned space without paying rent despite the organization’s antigay policy.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, while the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts may exclude gays because they are a “membership organization,” the policy of the Cradle of Liberty Council runs afoul of the Philadelphia city charter.
“So the scouts were ordered to vacate the 80-year-old headquarters they had occupied rent-free, or else pay $200,000 a year to lease the building from the Fairmount Park Commission,” reported the Inquirer. “It is one of two offices operated by the council, which runs scout troops in the city and Delaware and Montgomery counties.”
Meanwhile, according to the Inquirer, “the scouts contend the city's move is an unconstitutional ‘coercion’ that violates the organization's rights to free speech and equal protection. The city leases land to other institutions with membership rules, including a Catholic church, and those groups do not face eviction, the scouts say. The city says the comparison is inaccurate.”