Jury finds for Boy Scouts in eviction case

June 24, 2010 at 2:22 PM

PHILADELPHIA, June 24 (UPI) -- A federal jury says Philadelphia violated a local Boy Scouts chapter's free speech rights by threatening eviction over the organization's stand on gay members.

The city had demanded the Cradle of Liberty Council chapter repudiate the national organization's ban on gay membership or face eviction from their city-owned headquarters, The Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday.

The city contended at trial that Cradle had to abide by the city's anti-discrimination laws if it wanted to retain the $1-a-year lease as a non-profit organization, the newspaper said.

But the jury ruled that was a violation of the chapter's First Amendment rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts were a private membership group and had a constitutional right to associate with whoever they wanted without government interference.

Cradle filed its civil-rights lawsuit in May 2008.

Attorneys for the chapter applauded the jury's decision.

"We expect to get an injunction from the court," attorney Jason P. Gosselin said. "We've asked for a permanent injunction from trying to evict the Scouts because of the city's opposition to the leadership policy."

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