al. v. City of San Diego and Boy Scouts of America/Desert Pacific Council
The ACLU of San Diego filed a federal lawsuit challenging San Diego's preferential treatment of the Boy Scouts, a group that discriminates based on religion and sexual orientation. The city signed multi-year leases giving the Boy Scouts space for $1 a year, as well as rent-free use
of several city-owned recreational properties, despite a city ordinance barring anti-gay discrimination. The plaintiffs in the case, a lesbian couple and an agnostic straight couple, challenged the city's relationship with the Boy Scouts saying it violates the local nondiscrimination ordinance and the constitutional separation of church and state.
On July 31, 2003, U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. said the Council's lease of the 18-acre Camp Balboa in
Balboa Park violates provisions in the U.S. and state constitutions governing the separation of church and state. He stated that BSA is a religious organization because they require members to profess a belief in God. Deputy City Attorney John Mullen issued a statement that said "the City Attorney's Office will analyze the decision and seek direction from the City Council."
On January 8, 2004, the City of San Diego settled the case with the ACLU. Under its settlement with the
ACLU, the city will take no position on the validity of the leases in future legal proceedings, and the city will pay the ACLU's attorneys $790,000 for legal fees incurred during the three years of litigation and $160,000 in court costs. The BSA Council, which is not a party to the settlement, has the right to continue to present defenses to ACLU legal claims.
On February 5, 2004, BSA filed suit in federal court against the City of San Diego and members of the
City Council. BSA charges that the City violated the Scouts constitutional rights and breached its contract to lease land at Balboa Park.
On April 13, 2004, Judge Jones ruled that the lease of a Fiesta Island aquatics center on city-owned land is just as unconstitutional as its lease of public land in Balboa Park. To read Judge Jones' ruling, click here.
appealled the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and oral arguments were made in February 2006. As of June 2008, the Court of Appeals is still considering the matter.
For more information on this case, click here.