President Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, Edwin Meese, wants voters
to know where the presidential and vice presidential candidates stand on
the issue of the
Boy Scouts of America and homosexual leaders.
As chairman of the
Scouting Legal Defense Fund, Meese is asking the public to put pressure on moderators at the presidential debates to ask the candidates whether they support the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the right of the Boy Scouts not to have openly homosexual scoutmasters.
“At issue in this decision were the protection of the right of free speech and the right of association, not only for the Scouts, but for thousands of other groups and organizations,” Meese said. “This was a 5 to 4 decision and the next president will likely appoint two or three new Justices. The American people deserve to know clearly and unequivocally where the candidates stand on protecting these fundamental rights.”
The Scouting Legal Defense Fund, is a project of the
American Civil Rights Union
(ACRU), established to educate the public about the legal and constitutional issues at stake in the escalating attacks on scouting and to provide legal assistance for its defense.
The ACRU is “dedicated to defending all of the rights in the Constitution,” said the Scouting Legal Defense Fund in a written statement. “In this respect, it differs significantly from organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which defends only some Constitutional rights, and even then only as they interpret them.” The current attack on scouting, says the group, dramatically illustrates this difference.
“In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the ACRU filed a legal brief strongly supporting the Scouts,” according to the group’s statement. “The ACLU filed a brief opposing the Scouts’ right to set and maintain their own standards.”
Meese and his group have created a
website that enables supporters of the Boy Scouts to send a message to moderators and media representatives participating in the debates. Visitors to the website can ask moderators to question the presidential and vice presidential candidates about three issues.
- Whether the candidates support the Supreme Court decision on the BSA.
- Whether the candidates support the right of the Boy Scouts and other private groups to exclude homosexuals.
- Whether the candidates would select Supreme Court Justices who have a philosophy which would support the current majority on the court.
Meese said he is disappointed that the issue was not raised during the first debate, but he is hopeful public demand will force the questions to be asked in the next debate. His group will present the online letters from the public to the moderators before the next debates.
“I am disappointed that the candidates were not asked this question because at issue in this case were fundamental constitutional protections of speech and association,” Meese said. “Because so many of us have been personally involved with Scouting, asking this question would put the candidates’ views on these important issues into a context that would be immediately relevant to millions of Americans.”
The Boy Scouts of America recently announced that 100 million boys have joined the organization since its formation in 1910. Currently there are about 5 million members and 1.2 million adult leaders, according to BSA spokesman Greg Shields.
WorldNetDaily previously contacted the office of Texas Gov. George W. Bush when the Department of the Interior circulated a memorandum to investigate the possibility of removing the Boy Scouts from federal lands and facilities. Bush issued a statement supporting the BSA.
“I am troubled by this memo appearing to suggest that the Clinton-Gore administration might sever the federal government’s long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America,” said Bush. He complimented the boys and their leaders who have given extensive service in return for the use of the facilities each year.
“For many years, the Boy Scouts have conducted jamborees and other events on public lands and provided thousands of volunteer hours to help maintain our national parks. I hope that President Clinton and Vice President Gore respect the role the Boy Scouts play in our society and will not allow them to be shut out of federal lands,” Bush added.
Meese is a former attorney general of the United States. He also served as legal counsel to President Reagan and as Gov. Reagan’s executive assistant and chief of staff. His memoirs were published in the 1992 volume, “With Reagan: The Inside Story” (Regnery Gateway Publishers).
Meese is not alone in his efforts to defend the Boy Scouts. The Scouting Legal Defense Fund has an impressive board of advisers, including Robert H. Bork, former solicitor general and acting attorney general, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, member of the House Scouting Caucus, is an adviser to the
Save Our Scouts project.
Robert B. Carleson, former special assistant for policy development to President Reagan, is now chairman of the ACRU.
Other advisers include:
- Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C., former White House director of public liaison and director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
- Peter J. Ferrara, general counsel and chief economist for Americans for Tax Reform, who served in the Reagan Administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development as associate deputy attorney general, and in the White House Office of Policy Development.
- Gavin Grooms, director of
Scouts, and the publisher of the “Reagan Monitor,” president of CTR Publishing and chairman of The Banner of Liberty.
- Bradford Reynolds, an attorney in private practice, who served as counselor to Attorney Gen. Meese.
- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., co-chairman of the House Scouting Caucus.
- Joseph Perkins, nationally syndicated columnist, who was deputy assistant for domestic policy to Vice President Dan Quayle.
- Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, former director of the Voice of America, chairman of the National Commission on Libraries, a member of the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting. For 28 years he was on the staff of the Reader’s Digest, retiring as editor-in-chief.
- James Q. Wilson, professor at Harvard and UCLA, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society.
- Dr. Curtin Winsor, Jr., who served as a career foreign service officer, ambassador to Costa Rica and a special emissary to the Middle East for President-elect Reagan.
Save Our Scouts began an online petition to be sent to members of Congress and the National Council of Boy Scouts. Sheldon Kinsel, spokesman, said the group is more than half way to its goal of 55,000 signatures.
Kinsel said his group is also collecting funds from supporters of the BSA to be used to help groups hurt by companies that have withdrawn financial support because of the controversy.
“A grant of $1,000 will be made to the local San Diego council where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a suit to stop the Scouts’ use of city park land for a Scout camp. A $1,500 grant will go to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., local council where the city commission voted to reject the request of $10,000 to help the Boy Scouts of America with a school program for at-risk and disabled children,” said Kinsel.
Save Our Scouts also provided a grant of $1,000 to help start the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, according to Kinsel.
WorldNetDaily contacted the White House press office and the office of Vice President Al Gore for comment. Aides took messages and promised a response, but none was received from either office.
Gore did send a letter of support to Steven Cozza, 15, co-founder of
Scouting for All, dedicated to opening the “Boy Scouts of America to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth and adults.” The letter, posted on Cozza’s website, compliments him for his efforts “in solving problems associated with such issues as gay and lesbian rights.”
Gore did not comment about homosexual activists who angrily protested the appearance of six young Boy Scouts at the opening ceremony of the Democratic National Convention where Gore was nominated for president.