Illinois Civil Justice League: Lawsuits Threaten Schools & Scouting

March 16, 2005

Lawsuits Threaten Schools & Scouting

Lawsuits are always a threat to taxpayers, especially to local school districts. Thanks to Diane Meyer at Respublica Blog for pointing out the latest threat of litigation against the Boy Scouts of America.

According to, the ACLU has threatened to sue any "taxpayer-funded organizations that charter BSA units":

The ACLU sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America in February threatening legal action against public schools and other governmental agencies that charter Boy Scout groups on grounds that their sponsorship amounts to religious discrimination and violates the separation of church and state.

Boy Scouts open their meetings by holding three fingers aloft and repeating an oath in which members vow their allegiance to God and country, resolve to help others and commit to keeping themselves morally straight. Central to the BSA's stated mission is character development and values-based leadership training.

ACLU leaders view these conservative emphases as warrant for legal action, according to documents on the ACLU website.

Defending against a wave of ACLU lawsuits would cost schools untold thousands of dollars, [a BSA spokesperson] said. Instead of risking financially draining litigation, the BSA is pulling scout units from schools as a matter of stewardship, he said.

The Department of Defense has already settled with the ACLU over its connection with the BSA, stemming from a 1999 lawsuit that the ACLU of Illinois filed against the DoD, HUD and the Chicago Public School District.

According to a November 2004 ACLU release:

"It is critical that the Pentagon send this very clear signal to its units across the globe to ensure that government officials are not engaged in religious discrimination in their official capacity," said Charles Peters of the Chicago law firm Schiff Hardin who assisted the ACLU of Illinois in the lawsuit.


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