With Texas Gov. George W. Bush publicly condemning the government’s
recently-disclosed “discrimination” probe of the Boy Scouts of America,
a Washington, D.C.-based pro-family group has called on Democratic
presidential nominee Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph
Lieberman, to weigh in on the current controversy.
Officials with American Renewal believe both men have an obligation to
voters to let them know where they stand on the issue and have called on
them to make public their feelings about Clinton administration moves to
review federal involvement with the Boy Scouts.
“The United States government, acting through the Justice Department,
has no business targeting law-abiding Americans lawfully exercising
their constitutional rights,” American Renewal vice president Richard
Lessner said Thursday. “We do not live in a monarchy. Bill Clinton’s
decrees do not overrule the Constitution.”
The group was responding to published reports yesterday that a division
of the Department of the Interior – the Bureau of Reclamation — had
ordered a review of its associations with the Boy Scouts, to determine
if such associations violated an executive order issued by President
Clinton banning federal agencies from engaging in discriminatory acts.
The memo issued by the bureau and “sent to the bureau’s commissioner and
its regional directors, asked that the agency officials provide answers
to seven questions regarding all the ‘activities, events or programs’
they have in conjunction with the Boy Scouts by the end of business” on
Washington Times reported yesterday.
The executive order referenced by the Interior Department is EO 13160, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation and status as a parent in federally conducted education and training programs.”
Clinton signed the order five days before the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to exclude homosexuals from its ranks because, as a private organization founded in 1913, the court said, admitting them “would derogate from the organization’s expressive message.”
“It is outrageous and simply unacceptable for the Clinton administration to target an organization for possible reprisals solely because it is exercising its constitutional rights,” Lessner said.
“Where do Al Gore and Joe Lieberman stand? As Bill Clinton’s vice president, does Al Gore approve of this action by the Clinton-Gore Justice Department? Does Joe Lieberman, who in the past has expressed deep concern for the moral well-being of the nation’s children, support the Scouts in the organization’s efforts to teach young Americans to remain ‘morally clean’?” he said.
The group said that if the Boy Scouts could be targeted by the federal government, churches and other groups could be next if they “refuse to ordain homosexuals or appoint them to positions of leadership.”
“If the president’s executive orders take precedence to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and rulings of the Supreme Court, then our liberties are not secure and we are at the mercy of the chief executive’s political whims,” the group said in a statement.
By Thursday afternoon, the Gore-Lieberman campaign had no comment about the Clinton administration’s alleged targeting of the Boy Scouts.
However, the controversy has once again brought to the forefront the legality of presidential executive orders, countenanced by many as a president’s right, yet never referenced as a delegated presidential power
in the Constitution’s description of Executive Branch authority.
In fact, say analysts at
Executiveorders.org, a project of the
Committee, there is no mention of presidential executive orders anywhere in the Constitution, though such orders have been issued since President George Washington was in office.
“Clearly, certain powers are delegated by the U.S. Constitution to the president to exercise, such as the pardon power or commanding the armed forces, and these orders certainly could be labeled executive orders,” analysts said. “But presidents have been creative in reading the Constitution to grant them broad authority — such as the provision ‘he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.'”
“The Scouts believe homosexuality is incompatible with the organization’s principles and the scouting oath that requires that scouts remain ‘morally clean,'” said American Renewal.
Nevertheless, the Interior Department’s action “appears to be yet another instance of the Clinton administration kowtowing to the demands of the militant homosexual lobby and its radical political agenda,” Lessner said.
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