In a decision so incredulous it would be laughable but for its import, New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that a boys' organization, which for generations has been a guardian and teacher of mainstream America's moral values, must abandon its biblically-grounded stance on homosexuality and admit gays as members.
The court found that the Boy Scouts of America -- a private, voluntary organization with a moral message -- is actually a "place of public accommodation" subject to New Jersey's broad "anti-bias" law. The decision resulted from a suit by James Dale, an assistant Scoutmaster expelled from the Boy Scouts nine years ago after it was revealed he's a homosexual. It was the first time a state supreme court has ruled against the Scout organization in cases involving homosexuality.
Attorneys for the BSA rightly argued that the New Jersey law as applied to the Scouts is unconstitutional because the group is a private, voluntary organization. They insist the Scouts have the right to pick "role models" for its members and that the right to associate freely with groups of common interest is implicit in the First Amendment.
But the seven New Jersey justices, pompously railing against what they called the group's "bigotry," said the Scouts must admit those practicing a lifestyle many Americans and virtually all religions find repugnant: "Our courts have repeatedly held that when an entity invites the public to join, attend or participate in some way, that entity is a public accommodation within the meaning of the law against discrimination."
Rubbish. This will certainly raise eyebrows in thousands of religious congregations across the nation that invite the public to join, attend or participate in some way. Following the New Jersey court's logic, would it be that small a step for judges, down the road, to invade a church sanctuary and dictate the congregation's membership requirements?
We would also remind the Jersey justices that the federal courts have upheld the federal government's military ban on practicing homosexuals for some of the same reasons the Boy Scouts give.
The justices have, in a fit of self-righteous indignation, changed the traditional definition of voluntary associations and applied its own politically-correct moral code to the case.
The national Scout organization will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Good. Judging by their past track record, a majority on the nation's High Court shouldn't be sympathetic to the Jersey Supremes.