Boy Scouts Win Case Against City
KYW Newsradio Team Coverage
KYW’s Steve Tawa reports the local chapter of the Boy Scouts has prevailed in its federal case against the city of Philadelphia.
The city cannot evict the Boy Scouts from their rent-free center city headquarters (photo) over the scout’s court-approved right of free association, which allows them to exclude gays.
An eight member jury waded through a verdict sheet that sifted conflicting laws. The US Supreme Court in 2000 upheld the right of the Boy Scouts of America, the National Council, to exclude gays. But the city Charter and the city’s fair practices ordinance ban discrimination.
The Supreme Court trumps local laws, but the city didn’t want to subsidize discrimination, and wanted the Cradle of Liberty Council, the local Boy Scouts chapter, to pay fair market rent or be evicted.
Cradle of Liberty lawyer Bill McSwain says it means the scouts can remain rent-free in their city-owned headquarters. They will ask a judge to make the city pay the scout’s legal expenses, which total more than $800,000:
“We brought this case under a federal statute that said that wrongdoers have to pay the prevailing parties’ attorney’s fees.”
As he left the courtroom the lawyer representing the city had no comment.
Jurors sided with the scouts on all but two elements on the verdict sheet. Juror Merrill Arbogast is a truck driver from Lancaster County.:
“I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, but we did take each question seriously, and tried to apply the law the best way we understood it.”
KYW’s Pat Loeb reports Mayor Nutter isn’t ready to concede defeat quite yet.
Nutter says there are still a lot of questions about what the verdict will mean for the city.
“This is clearly a very complicated, seemingly confusing verdict that has come from the jury.”
Nutter says he’s pleased the jury found the city did not discriminate against the Scouts but he’s still concerned about the scout’s discrimination against gays taking place on city property and says the city solicitor will be studying the decision before the city decides what to do next.
“In the city of Philadelphia, we will not tolerate discrimination and that really is the bottom line.”
(photo: courtesy CBS3)