Thursday, June 19, 2008

City Urges Scout Suit be Dismissed

Or, in other words, when you have no standing, move for dismissal. The city is so going to lose this "smear" campaign against the Boy Scouts.

By MICHAEL HINKELMAN
Philadelphia Daily News


The city asked a federal judge yesterday to throw out a complaint by the local Boy Scouts chapter that seeks to prevent the city from evicting the chapter from its city-owned headquarters unless it pays $200,000 a year in rent.

The local chapter, the Cradle of Liberty Council, pays the city $1 annually to lease a city-owned 1928 Beaux Arts building at 22nd and Winter streets, near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Deputy City Solicitor Robert D. Aversa said in a 30-page brief that allowing the Scouts to continue rent-free occupancy "amounted to an improper and undesired subsidization of discriminatory use of city-owned property."

The Boy Scouts of America bars atheists and anyone who is openly gay from being a member.

The city said yesterday that it had attempted to resolve the issue by asking Cradle of Liberty to "state unequivocally" that it would not discriminate while using the building and grounds.

When Cradle of Liberty refused to "adopt a nondiscriminatory membership policy," City Council passed a resolution on May 31, 2007, terminating its rent-free arrangement with the Scouts, the city's court filing said.

Alternatively, the city said that the organization could pay $200,000 annual rent or "vacate and surrender" the headquarters building on May 31, 2008.

The city said that Cradle of Liberty waited almost a year, and then filed a federal suit on May 23 "in anticipation" of being evicted. The Scouts remain in their headquarters pending resolution of the legal matters.

A 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision said that the Boy Scouts is a private group and thus can associate with whomever it wants and government cannot interfere with that right.

Cradle of Liberty charged in its suit that the city opposed such rights and decided to "punish" the local chapter by demanding that it repudiate the national membership policy.

The local chapter also said that the city was censoring it by "singling out" Cradle at the same time that it maintained free or modest leases with others, including church groups, who limit membership. The city said in its filing that neither claim passed legal muster.

hinkelm@phillynews.com 215-854-2656 *



2 comments:

TrekMedic251 said...

Its a shame this didn't happen during Street's administration. Boy, wouldn't that have been a sharp stick in his eye.

Or,..upon thinking it over, maybe BECAUSE Street isn't the mayor, someone with enough brains to realize its a losing cause (Nutter) is urging the city to drop this foolishness and leave the BSA alone!

Charlie on the PA Turnpike said...

Marsh: The city said in its filing that neither claim (that the city is punishing the Scouts and the city was singling out the Scouts passed legal muster. ... if the city's claim were true, instead of moving for dismissal they could easily produce documents that would refute the CoL's claim. Instead, like you said, they're hoping a like-minded judge will toss the case.

TrekMedic: as I understand things, Mayor Nutter voted for the eviction as a member of the City Council; his best hope for any re-election bid is to lose a court case instead of flip-flopping.

And don't think he's not already weighing re-election...

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