In this case, the council alleged that the city was violating its First and 14th Amendment rights — free speech and equal protection — both of which the jury found to be not true. On the third question, whether the city placed an “unconstitutional condition” on the Scouts council by attempting to evict them because they refused to comply with local antidiscrimination laws, the jury ruled in favor of the Scouts.
Since the June 23 verdict, the Supreme Court has handed down a ruling in a California case that found a university could withhold official recognition of a school group if it did not allow all students to participate.
In this case, “Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez,” University of California’s Hastings College of the Law refused to recognize a Christian legal group that affiliated with the national CLS, which barred gays and nonbelievers from holding officer positions in the chapter.
The school has a blanket “all-comers” policy, requiring groups to allow all students. With official recognition, the groups receive small grants from student activity and university funds, access to office space and meeting rooms, use of the school name and logo and access to an e-mail address.
In the majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings’ policy.”
In a concurrence, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “A free society must tolerate such groups. It need not subsidize them, give them its official imprimatur or grant them equal access to law school facilities.”
The court’s ruling in this case could have a significant impact on the local Boy Scouts case — even after the jury’s verdict — as the judge has not yet entered judgment on the verdict.
There are several ways the case could be resolved. First, the jury, judge and lawyers for the Scouts have all said the city was attempting to evict the Scouts on an unconstitutional basis — and that the city could evict them for a constitutional reason. With the Hastings ruling in hand, the judge could dismiss the Scouts case in its entirety and the city could begin the eviction process anew.
Or, the judge could order the city and Scouts to work out a reasonable lease agreement.
If he were to enter judgment in the Scouts’ favor, he could require the city to pay the council’s legal fees (an estimated $860,000), full or in part, and/or bar the eviction permanently.
Now, the community awaits his decision.