WASHINGTON– LAWFUEL – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), specializing in constitutional law, today applauded a decision by a federal appeals court dismissing a lawsuit by the ACLU challenging the U.S. Department of Defense’s support of the Boy Scouts of America and their national jamboree. The ACLJ filed an amicus brief with the appeals court on behalf of 90 members of Congress asking that the suit be dismissed.
“We’re delighted that the federal appeals court reached the proper conclusion in this case,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which filed the brief on behalf of members of Congress. “This is just another example of the ACLU trying to impose its flawed view of the constitution on the rest of America. The military provides the Boy Scouts with support and services that aid both the military and the Scouts without endorsing religion. This lawsuit should never have been brought in the first place and we’re pleased the appeals court dismissed the suit clearing the way for this beneficial relationship between the military and the Boy Scouts to continue.”
The ACLJ asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reverse a lower court decision that declared a 1972 statute passed by Congress enabling the Defense Department to provide support to the Boy Scouts unconstitutional because it violated the separation of church and state. The Defense Department provides support and services every four years when the Scouts hold their Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.
In a decision released this week, the appeals court ruled that the ACLU-backed taxpayer plaintiffs who brought the suit did not have legal standing to bring the case and dismissed the lawsuit.
The dispute began in 1999 when the ACLU filed suit claiming that the Defense Department’s sponsorship of the Boys Scouts violated the First Amendment because the group requires its members to swear an oath which states, in part, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.” A federal district court said the Jamboree statute was unconstitutional and violated the Establishment Clause because it had a primary effect of advancing religion. The decision was appealed to the 7th Circuit.
The ACLJ represented nearly 90 members of Congress in support of the statute. In its brief, the ACLJ contended that in passing the statute, Congress sought to help the military advance its own goals, not to promote the Boy Scouts religious beliefs. The ACLJ contends the lower court used flawed legal reasoning to reach its conclusion. The brief asserts that the Defense Department’s support comes in the form of “non-religious supplies and services.” The brief states: “The military’s rental of forklifts and trucks, transportation and military equipment, restoration of Fort A.P. Hill after the Jamboree, and provision of other secular services is clearly ‘neutral and nonideological.’ The only possible message that the military’s aid can be viewed as conveying is that patriotism, self-reliance, physical fitness, and support of the military are positive things.”
The brief is posted online at www.aclj.org.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice specializes in constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.