Boy Scouts: Legal bigots?

By Hans Zeiger

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One must truly be vile to be legally classified as a bigot. Bigot is the label that may soon be branded by the American Bar Association upon individuals who volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America. And under a newly proposed ABA conduct rule, America’s judges would be prohibited from associating with the Boy Scouts.

When the 400,000-member American Bar Association passes judicial ethics rules, state and federal courts generally adopt and abide by those rules. The latest rule proposal would force judges to end any current involvement they have with organizations that exclude homosexuals, just as judges are not allowed to be a part of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi groups or other racist organizations. An ethics panel is discussing the new rule and it could be approved next year.

The leader of the ABA legal ethics panel is attorney Mark Harrison of Phoenix who explained that the goal of the anti-Boy Scouts proposal is to “make sure that judges aren’t viewed as bigots.”

Seeing that Mr. Harrison is a member of the board of trustees for Planned Parenthood, it is reasonable to ask whether the ABA should also ban advocates of abortion and murder from the nation’s courts. Surely members of Planned Parenthood are bigots too, against the unborn.

The ABA proposal follows on a California Supreme Court decision last year that judges who volunteer with the Scouts must either disclose their involvement with Scouting or exempt themselves from any case that involves homosexual discrimination. Reacting to motions by the San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles Bar Associations, the California high court essentially said: “If a judge happens to be a scoutmaster in the local Boy Scout troop, he is a fundamentalist, intolerant, homophobic bigot and should make that known to the community or be ineligible to decide in cases involving alternative lifestyles.”

Making one’s association with Scouting known to the public should not be reason for political and cultural stigma, it should be just another reason to re-elect a judge or commend him for his involvement in the community.

But the new American Bar Association ethics proposal goes beyond simply stigmatizing judges involved with the Scouts – the proposal would actually prohibit judges from any kind of association whatsoever with organizations that oppose homosexuality.

A so-called ethics expert who ended up in the ABA discussion is Stephen Gillers of New York University. Homosexuals, said Gillers, “should not be asked to trust the fairness of a judge” who holds membership in a discriminatory organization.

Of course, the Boy Scouts are not the only organization that prohibits homosexual members – many veteran groups, for example, also exclude homosexuals. Certainly, most churches and all Bible-believing churches are strictly opposed to homosexuality. Under the proposed ABA rules, judges could potentially be put in a position of having to choose between the bench and the Bible.

In fact, a judge who serves part time in the military Reserves or National Guard could be disqualified from his judgeship under the proposed rule, simply because open homosexuals are not allowed to serve in the Armed Forces.

Under the proposed rule, would the sons of judges also be prohibited from joining the Boy Scouts since the judge himself would still pay dues and drive his sons to and from meetings, at the least? How far would this rule go?

Judge Frederic Smallkin, a professor of law at the University of Maryland told the Associated Press of his disagreements with the proposed ethics rule. “Judges are human beings too,” said Smallkin. “They should be allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights of free association.”

Isn’t it interesting that for all the talk of the First Amendment by the leftist establishment in the legal community, there is such disregard for the First Amendment when it comes to protecting the rights of the Boy Scouts and those involved with the Scouts? For years, the American Civil Liberties Union has led the war on the Boy Scouts of America in our nation’s courts. Now, the American Bar Association is discussing changing the very ground-rules on which business is conducted in the courtroom, in order to further denigrate America’s finest youth organization and its members.

This is a battle we cannot afford to ignore. The honor and character of our nation is at stake. Let’s e-mail the American Bar Association and tell them that their politically correct ethics rule proposal is unjust and dangerous.