Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Judge Roberts, 5-4, 98-0, and What It All Means to Scouting

I'm on a mailing list where I receive updates about the Boy Scouts of America, and their continuing battle to receive funding despite homosexual and antitheist activism. This is worth sharing:

Dear Defender of Scouting,

The pending confirmation battle over President Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts underscores the increasingly influential role the federal courts are playing in determining social policy in this country.

The reason, of course, is activist judges who are going far beyond the proper role of the judiciary to merely interpreting the law and the clear language of the Constitution. Instead, we see too many judges becoming judicial activists, imposing their own personal agendas and ideologies on society through their rulings.

Probably no group in this country in recent years has been more affected by this development than the Scouts. After all, in the Dale decision just five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Scouts’ right to exclude openly homosexual men from serving as scoutmasters by just one vote, 5-4. This is why the confirmation of justices like Judge Roberts, who clearly is an individual who will strictly interpret the Constitution and refrain from “legislating from the bench,” is so critically important not just to the future of Scouting, but to our country.

As we report below, a runaway federal judiciary can cause great damage to an organization like the Scouts even in the face of overwhelming opposition to such decision. The most recent example of this is the injunction issued in June by Chicago Federal District Court Judge Blanche Manning. If allowed to stand, this injunction would prohibit the Defense Department from supporting future National Jamborees specifically and, by implication, Scouting generally. The Bush Administration is planning to appeal and the Scouting Legal Defense Fund will be filing an amicus brief in support.

It was a preliminary ruling last fall in this same case, originally filed in 1999 by the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that led Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to introduce the Support Our Scouts Act. Among other provisions, this bill will make it clear that the Defense Department can continue to Support the Scouts. On July 26th the Senate adopted the bill on a 98-0 vote as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill.

While this unanimous vote accurately demonstrates once again the overwhelming public support of Scouting, it cannot completely nullify a ruling made by an activist judge on constitutional grounds that the Defense Department cannot fund Scout activities such as the Jamboree. The only sure ways to do that is for Congress to limit the jurisdiction of the courts on Scouting issues or to amend the Constitution. Both are extremely difficult and unlikely remedies.

This means that appointing responsible judges is the only practical way to truly protect Scouting and the critical role it has played for nearly a century in building our national character. And, clearly, the most critical court to focus on is the Supreme Court.

If you have not already contacted your senators with regard to Judge Roberts’ nomination, I hope you will do so. You can find complete contact information for them at the Senate Web site. Communicating our views on this nomination to our senators is one of the most important things any of us can do to defend scouting.

Thanks for all of you efforts in this critical effort!


Robert B. Carleson

P.S. You can help defend Scouting even more by making a tax deductible contribution to the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, Click here to make a secure contribution on line or to print out a form to mail in a contribution.

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