Skip to comments.California Supreme Court Okays Berkeley’s Discrimination Against Boy Scout Affiliate (Sea Scouts)
Posted on 03/09/2006 9:56:37 PM PST by freedomdefender
San Francisco,CA; March 09, 2006: The California Supreme Court today ruled against the Berkeley Sea Scouts in Evans v. Berkeley, and upheld the City of Berkeleys discriminatory campaign to force the local nonprofit youth group to end its lifelong affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
"The California Supreme Courts decision today unfortunately has given the green light to activist city officials to discriminate against groups they disagree with politically," said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Harold Johnson, co-counsel in the case. Johnson also represents Sea Scout Tonatiuh Alvarez, one of the plaintiffs and petitioners before the state Supreme Court.
"The decision turns the First Amendment on its head," said Johnson. "Berkeley can declare itself a nuclear free zone, but it cant declare itself a First Amendment free zone. This decision licenses Berkeley to treat people as second-class citizens if they dont sign a loyalty oath to the ruling ideology of Berkeley City Hall."
"The bottom line is that Berkeley officials are punishing the kids that participate in the Sea Scouts to make a political statement, and thats a real tragedy," Johnson said.
"This isnt the first time the California Supreme Court has failed to adequately protect First Amendment rights, but its always disappointing when a court gives its seal of approval to government discrimination and government abridgment of the freedom of association," said PLF's Johnson.
For 50 years, the Sea Scouts have taught Bay Area kids to sail, and learn carpentry and plumbing by working on the Scouts ship in the Berkeley Marina. Like other local nonprofits, Berkeley allowed the group to berth at the marina for free. But in 1998, Berkeley officials demanded the group sever its affiliation with the Boy Scouts. Berkeley officials were retaliating against the Boy Scouts because of the groups traditional values and membership policies--even though the those policies are protected by the First Amendment, according to the United States Supreme Court.
When the Sea Scouts declined to end their lifelong relationship with the Boy Scouts, Berkeley ended a half-century tradition of granting the Sea Scouts a free berth and began charging the group a $500 a month fee.
As a result, the retired high school teacher who is skipper of the Sea Scouts ship must pay the fee out of his pocket. Before the fee was imposed, he covered the membership and activities costs for teenagers from low-income neighborhoods, something he can no longer afford to do. So while many minority, low-income Sea Scouts members have had to drop out of the popular youth program, free berthing is still being allowed for other groups, including the Berkeley Yacht Club, the Cal Sailing Club, and the Nautilus Institute.
PLF argued that Berkeleys fee amounts to a fine for exercising First Amendment freedoms, specifically the Sea Scouts right to associate with the Boy Scouts of America. Under both the state and federal constitutions, government may not punish individuals or private organizations for exercising their First Amendment rights. But that is precisely what Berkeley is doing to the Sea Scouts by singling them out for exclusion from the citys program that allows free use of the marina for nonprofits.
As Justice Roger Traynor of the California Supreme Court wrote in a famous freedom-of- expression case (Danskin v. San Diego Unified School District (1946)), once government creates a program or facility for the public, "it cannot demand tickets of admission in the form of convictions and affiliations that it deems acceptable."
About Pacific Legal Foundation Pacific Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest legal organization that litigates nationwide in defense of individual rights and limited government. PLF has supported the Boy Scouts First Amendment rights in a number of high profile cases.
Berkeley is charging them a fee because they are Boy Scouts and Boy Scouts aren't politically correct. Other nonprofits get free use, so this is discrimination based on ideology. Unfair. Unconstitutional. Unfreakin unbelievable that the Cal SUpreme Court would say this is OK.
Guess it takes a constitutional amendment for the boy scouts to be treated decently.
So how about it
The sauce for a goose is the sauce for a gander. Per USSC, there is no inherent right to the taxpayer money, be it federal funds for the universities or a rent subsidy at the marina. Those who do not like the attached strings should not take the money, and then they could exercise their Constitutional rights to their hearts' content.
already posted here.
That's true, but when government opens a program or offers a benefit, it can't pick and choose recipients based on their viewpoints. The US SUpreme Court has made that clear -- but that's what Berkeley is doing by shutting the Scouts out of a program that other nonprofits are allowed into. It's as if Berkeley charged Republicans more to use a city swimming pool than Democrats. Are you saying that would be constitutional, because "there is no inherent right to taxpayer money"? The US Supreme Court would disagree with you -- and I won't be surprised if they state their disagreement with the California Court on the Scout issue.
Not really. The article you cite is from the San Fran Comical, and takes a liberal slant - suggesting that the Scouts were arguing they deserved a "subsidy." As the article that I posted notes, what was at issue, instead, is whether Berkeley can treat the Scouts UNEQUALLY -- WITH DISCRIMINATION -- because Berkeley doesn't like their traditional viewpoint.
This isn't about a "Right to a subsidy" -- as the Chronicle implies -- its' about a right EQUAL TREATMENT, and a right to NOT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF ONE'S CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED VIEWPOINTS.
They're fighting the Boy Scouts in case after case.
Well, are they being overcharged for that berth? Or are they assessed the market rent? And as for "can't pick and choose" - I disagree. I read that USSC decision and understood it completely differently from your interpretation.
The good old USA isn't nearly as good as it once was.
Do you ever wonder what the Lord thinks of what we've done to this once great blessing He entrusted to us? I do and then I shudder.
The scouts helped build the damn marina. This isn't a "gimmee."
Beyond that, the SCOTUS decision has NO relevance to this case. You're building assumption castles in thin air.
They're being charged a high monthly fee, while other nonprofits are not charged any fee. It's rank discrimination, based on ideology. Look up "viewpoint discrimination" in a law hornbook. The US SUpreme Court has said again and again that government can't withhold access to a public benefit based on someone's constitutionally protected viewpoint. The law school/military case wasn't about that -- the Court decided that case based on Congress's military powers under the Constitution. You need to become familiar with more Supreme Court cases - such as the Karen Findley case, the Rosenberger case, the Legal Services case, all of which say that government benefits can't be withheld simply because government doesn't like an applicant's viewpoint.
I'll ask you again: Do you think it would be constitutional for Berkeley to charge Republicans, but not Democrats, to use its Marina or its swimming pools? THat's what they're doing in the Sea Scout case - - they're charging the Sea Scouts, while not charging other nonprofits whose views are more "acceptable" to city hall.
I so want to believe as you do. I'm just holding my breath until I see good results.
It's a disgrace, but it's no surprise. It's California.
(Personally, though, I don't really think that places like Berkeley and San Fransicko are proper places to take children into anyway.)
Before the fee was imposed, he covered the membership and activities costs for teenagers from low-income neighborhoods, something he can no longer afford to do. So while many minority, low-income Sea Scouts members have had to drop out of the popular youth program,
And I thought libs were "for the children."