Scouts must consider brothers’ applications

Monday, March 2, 1998

A California court has ordered The Boy Scouts of America to consider requests of two brothers, who refuse to swear an oath to God, to become Eagle Scouts.

Last month the California Supreme Court ruled that the Scouts cannot try to block Michael and William Randall from trying to attain the group’s highest rank while the twins’ legal battle with the group continues.

Following that decision, a lower state court ruled last week that the boys’ applications must be considered by the Scouts no later than March 15.

The legal struggle began in 1991, when the brothers protested their expulsion from the organization for refusing to take the Scout oath. The California Superior Court ruled in 1992 that the group is a business and subject to the anti-discrimination protections of the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. Two years later a state court of appeals upheld that decision.

The Scouts appealed those decisions. Lawyers for the Scouts claim it is a private organization, not subject to the state’s anti-discrimination laws, but instead protected by the First Amendment’s right to freedom of association.

The California Supreme Court is expected to decide the issue in April.