US: Proposal would ban Boy Scout members from being California judges

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A proposal in the US state of California would ban judges from being members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of the organisation’s ban on gay adult leaders.

According to the Daily Caller, the California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics put forward to proposal to classify the BSA as practicing “invidious discrimination” against gay people.

If successful, the proposed change would end the Boy Scouts’ exemption from the anti-discriminatory ethics rules, therefore prohibiting judges from being aligned with the group.

Catherine Short, the legal director of pro-life group Life Legal Defense Foundation, wrote to the committee

“This proposed amendment has as its overtly-stated purpose the branding of the BSA as an organization whose members must be assumed to be biased and thus unfit for the bench. The Committee states that ‘eliminating the exemption… would enhance public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,’” Short wrote.

“On the contrary, by promoting a hierarchy of politically-favored ‘victim’ status through pointlessly impugning the integrity of members of a venerable American institution, the proposed Amendment will communicate to the public that judges are being told by the California Supreme Court what to think, whom they may associate with, and what are permissible opinions to hold, and that only those who toe the line will be allowed to sit on the bench. The public can hardly expect impartiality from the judiciary in such a climate of intolerance,” she continued.

In 1996, the court banned judges who belong to groups allegedly discriminating against gays, but it made an exception for groups such as the BSA, in order to allow judges who served as troop leaders.

The policy was subject to change in 2003, but efforts to do so failed. Judges were advised to disclose that they were members if questions came up.

Earlier this year the BSA changed its policy to allow openly gay scout members, but still bans gay adult volunteers and staff.