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Randall Twins v. BSA

2010 Update

Both Michael and have completed college and William Randall was admitted into the California Bar on June 1, 2009 -- by Judge Frazee!

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     After being in Cub Scouting for three years, in 1991, William and Michael Randall were expelled from an Orange County Cub Scout pack, because their family is not religious.
     In January 1991, William and Michael announced that they didn't believe in God and wouldn't say the word "God" during the recitation of the Cub Scout Oath. They were eventually asked to leave Pack 519 for not meeting BSA's religious membership requirement,
     The Randalls decided to file suit against the BSA. They alleged a violation of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, in that the Randalls were denied equal access to an organization covered by the Act because they had no religious beliefs. They sought injunctive relief prohibiting further exclusion or impediment to participation in scouting activities.
     On February 21, 1991, Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard O. Frazee Sr. issued a temporary restraining order. It prohibited the Orange County Council from refusing the Randalls membership in the Boy Scouts of America, from conditioning their advancement upon religious components, and from requiring them to use the word "God" in any pledge or vow. Judge Frazee granted a preliminary injunction on April 25, 1991, affording the same relief and adding a prohibition against BSA's refusing to advance the Randalls to the higher ranks of the Cub Scouts on the basis of such requirements.
     Several hours after the ruling was issued, the Randall twins were confronted by angry parents when they attended a Pack Meeting for Pack 519.
     According to news reports, one parent, Randy Lindenburg, screamed "There's a million people in this country who think you're stupid." Because of such arguments, the Pack Meeting was abruptly canceled.
     Afterwards, the father of Michael and William, James G. Randall, stated that "This is the reason I don't want my boys to follow the same God you do."
     However, BSA appealed the preliminary injunction to the Appellate Court . The Court of Appeal stayed enforcement of the preliminary injunction and ultimately granted BSA's petition for writ of supersedeas. Accordingly, the Randall twins were barred from participating in Cub Scouting, pending the decision of the trial court.
     Before the appeal from the order granting the preliminary injunction was decided, the matter went to trial.

     In 1992, a trial began to determine if BSA was covered under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. During the trial, the Randall twins testified that on the rare occasions when they repeated the Cub Scout Oath, they did not say the word "God," and that when they explained their lack of belief in God to their Den Leader in Culver City, he permitted them to omit any reference to God. The Den Leader, on the other hand, testified that the boys had recited the entire promise in his Den and never had raised any question regarding their belief in God.
     When the Randalls moved to Anaheim Hills in Orange County, the boys joined Cub Scout Den 4, which was affiliated with Pack 519, a part of the Orange County Council. While the boys were working on the requirements for advancement to the Bear rank in 1990, a problem arose.
     One of these requirements has a religious component, which was stated in the following terms in the materials provided to boys seeking advancement:

    "We are lucky the people who wrote and signed our constitution were very wise. They understood the need of Americans to worship God as they choose. A member of your family will be able to talk with you about your duty to God. Remember, this achievement is part of your cub scout promise. 'I, ____, promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country.' "

    Further, the Cub Scout seeking advancement to the Bear rank is instructed to: "Practice your religion as you are taught in your home, church, synagogue, mosque or other religious community." Religious emblems provided by the Cub Scout's own religious institution also may be earned at this point.

     At a Den meeting, the Randall boys stated they would have a problem with the religion requirement, and stated that they did not believe in God. The Den Leader observed that she thought belief in God was necessary to complete the religion requirement. After consulting with officials in the Orange County Council, the Den Leader confirmed to the boys' mother that this was the policy.
     Initially, BSA's position was that the Randall twins could remain in the Den, but that they could not advance in the Cub Scout ranks until they promised to do their duty to God. At trial, BSA officials stated that the boys would not be able to participate at all as Cub Scouts if they do not believe in God, because such a state of disbelief is inconsistent with the Cub Scout Promise to perform a duty to God.

     In May 1992 Judge Frazee ruled in favor of the Randall twins. Judge Frazee determined that BSA is a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, relying upon the organization's nonexclusive membership policy and large membership, its commercial transactions with the public, its businesslike organizational structure, its large income and investments, its employment of a large professional staff, its fundraising activities, and its opening of certain of its facilities to nonmembers.
     With regard to the constitutional issues, Judge Frazee found that the evidence did not support BSA's claim that the intimate associational rights of Den Leaders and Cub Scouts in the Den would be seriously impaired if members who do not promise to fulfill a duty to God are permitted to join. As for the Orange County Council, the court determined that it was too large an organization to have intimate associational rights.
     Judge Frazee also concluded that the constitutional right of expressive associational freedom does not entitle the BSA to exclude the Randall twins from membership.
     On the basis of the foregoing conclusions, Judge Frazee issued a permanent injunction against BSA, preventing it from excluding the Randall twins from membership or advancement in the BSA or in a Den, Pack, Troop, or Post based upon the Randall's religious beliefs or lack thereof, their refusal to swear an oath or a duty to God, or to use the word "God" in any pledge, oath, or promise or vow, or their failure to participate in any religious activities.
     BSA appealed the trial court's decision, and on February 28, 1994, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in part and reversed it in part.
     The majority declared that Curran v. Mount Diablo Council established that the BSA at the national and council level is a business establishment subject to the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and that the application of the civil rights act to the BSA does not violate its constitutional right of free association, either by infringing upon the right of intimate association or the right of expressive association. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, however, to the extent it purported to enjoin the actions of Packs and Dens, on the ground that no Pack or Den had been named as a party.
     The dissenting justice on the Court of Appeal panel, Justice Thomas F. Crosby, Jr., who would have reversed the trial court judgment in its entirety, maintained that Curran did not decide the issues presented in the case brought by the Randalls and, alternatively, that Curran was wrongly decided. His dissent emphasized the noncommercial aspects of the Orange County Council's activities and the importance of religion to its message, and concluded that the council is not a business establishment for the purposes of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. As for the constitutional issues, he concluded that the First Amendment prohibits the state from forcing the BSA to disregard its own ideals or to forfeit the right to associate based upon common beliefs and values.
     BSA appealed to the California Supreme Court and its appeal was accepted later that year. However, it was not until January 1998 that the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case brought by the Randalls and Tim Curran.

     The California Supreme Court ruled March 28, 1998 that BSA's "attributes and activities render the Unruh Civil Rights Act inapplicable to its membership decisions. Defendant not only is a charitable organization with a predominantly expressive social purpose unrelated to the promotion of the economic interests of its members, but offers to its members a program that is not the equivalent of a traditional place of public accommodation or amusement. Despite the organization's limited business transactions with the public, defendant does not sell the right to participate in the activities it offers to its members. For these reasons, with regard to its membership decisions, defendant is not operating as a business establishment within the purview of California's public accommodation statute."
    The Court further stated that "Because we have concluded that the Unruh Civil Rights Act does not apply to defendant's membership decisions, we need not consider defendant's contention that application of the Unruh Civil Rights Act to its membership decisions under the circumstances of this case would violate its right of intimate or expressive association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution."
     Upon hearing of the decision a tearful William Randall said, "The Scouts taught us to stand up for what we believe in, no matter what people say, but I guess it was just a bunch of words to them."
     Because the case revolved around a state law and did not address any federal constitutional issues, it could not be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

     While the Randalls eventually lost their case, they were allowed, under the permanent restraining order, to participate in Scouting. They both moved into Boy Scouting and started their trail to Eagle Scout. By the end of 1997 they had completed all of their requirements for the Eagle Scout Award and were ready for their Board of Review.
     A former Scout troop leader James F. Meade described the twins as "two of the finest young men that I had in that troop." He told the Los Angeles Times, "They exemplify all the Scouting virtues as far as I'm concerned." However, BSA did not agree with that assessment.
     In an effort to prevent the Randall twins from reaching the rank of Eagle Scout, BSA asked the California Supreme Court on September 26, 1997 to modify the lower-court decision mandating the boys' advancement. Because the twins refused to recite the Scout Oath, BSA wanted to bar them from achieving Scouting's highest honor.
     The California Supreme Court rejected BSA's petition, so BSA took no action on convening an Eagle Board of Review. On February 23, 1998, Judge Frazee ordered the BSA to proceed with the Eagle Board of Review.
     On March 15, 1998, a special Eagle Board, made up of three parents and three Boy Scout executives, voted unanimously to award Michael and William Randall their Eagle Scout Awards. While the decision was subject to final approval by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, there are no known instances in Scouting's history where the National Council has refused to confirm the award once an Eagle Board has approved it.
     So, while William and Michael were eventually expelled from Scouting, they at least are Eagle Scouts.

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