The Philly Gay News is reporting that the federal judge who recently issued an injuction in a case involving the City of Philadelphia and the Boy Scouts was himself a Scout official. The twist is that his time with the Scouts did overlap his time on Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
Philadelphia has been providing a City owned property as Scouting headquarters at below market rent. In recent years, they decided that the Scout sanctioned discrimination against sexual orientation conflicted with the City's non-discrimination policies. In other words, while the Scouts as a faith based organization are not required to comply with the law per se, they should not receive public subsidies (aka rent subsidy).
City officials want to evict the Scouts from the building because the organization won’t permit openly gay participants, nor will it pay fair-market rent of $200,000 annually.
In their attempt to remain in the building, the Scouts filed a federal lawsuit in May 2008, alleging discrimination by city officials for exercising their constitutional right to ban gays.
The lawsuit relies largely on a 2000 Supreme Court decision stating that the Boy Scouts of America aren’t a public accommodation, so they’re not required to comply with local civil-rights laws protecting gays.
The city responded by noting that the Scouts are free to associate with whomever they please, but they aren’t entitled to city subsidies to facilitate discriminatory practices.
The Scout cried foul and off to Court everybody went.
City attorneys objected to the injunction issued by Buckwalter on Nov. 18, 2009. It effectively prevents Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein from ordering the Cradle of Liberty Council’s eviction from 231-251 N. 22nd St. at this stage of the litigation.
Also at the Jan. 19 proceeding, Buckwalter gave both sides until Jan. 22 to submit a memorandum before deciding whether the Scouts should post a bond for the duration of the injunction.
Buckwalter additionally said there may be a public hearing at a future date to determine the bond amount, if he decides one should be posted.
I'm assuming the bond would be the technical way to ensure the Scouts pay the back rent if the Court decides it must be so? Regardless, the federal court has now made it possible for the Scouts to continue to reside in Philadelphia tax payer property without paying fair rent.
Can Buckwalter remain objective given his affiliation with the Scouts while serving on the Court of Common Pleas? The City attorneys have raised no objection. It was awhile ago, after all, but it does go to show just a lack of common sense. If you aren't supposed to be affiliated with groups that might come before you, it just seems ridiculous. At least he disclosed now.
The bigger issue this brings to light is this claim that the Boy Scouts have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ persons AND receive public subsidies. They claim that paying fair market value on the property is violating the constitution. It is so utterly ridiculous.
So continue to not support the Boy Scounts. Not only do they teach intolerance and bigotry, but they want your tax dollars to do it.