Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, applauded a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the Boy Scouts of America’s right to exclude a gay individual from the position of scoutmaster. The Court ruled that to compel the Boy Scouts to retain this person in that position was a burden on the Scouts’ First Amendment right of expressive association.
The Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, had participated in this case by filing a brief in support of the Boy Scouts with the high court. The brief contended that Court precedents clearly hold that the First Amendment’s guarantee that Americans may gather in civic organizations includes a recognition that the civic organization is empowered to determine what its message is. Thus, “for a law, regulation or court edict to manipulate the membership of a private association by compelling the inclusion of those who dissent from the message to be expressed is exactly the same as compelling the association to alter its expression.” Inasmuch as the Boy Scouts have clearly asserted that they do not wish public advocacy for gay rights to be part of their organization’s message, to force them to retain a gay-rights activist as a scoutmaster is inappropriate.
UOJCA Institute director, Nathan Diament, stated that “this ruling is very important to America’s religious communities and organizations – groups that are often ‘politically incorrect’ as they adhere to their principles and beliefs. There is little protection these traditional organizations are afforded these days, so this ruling that the right of expressive association is healthy and protected is critical.”