James Dale, who earned his Eagle Scout badge, became an assistant scoutmaster in 1989. While attending Rutgers University, Dale revealed his sexual orientation during a speech in his capacity as co-president of the university's Lesbian/Gay Alliance group. In July 1990, scouting authorities sent Dale a letter, severing all ties with him. When Dale wrote to inquire the reason, the response said "the grounds for this membership revocation are the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America, which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals." Dale sued in state court, saying the Boy Scouts violated a state law, which prevents places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. After a trial court judge ruled in favor of the Scouts in 1995, both the Superior Court of New Jersey and the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of Dale. The Boy Scouts appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case on Jan. 14, 2000. The freedom of association includes the freedom not to associate with certain individuals and ideas. Though the First Amendment protects free-association rights, the freedom of association is not absolute. In order to qualify for free-association protection, a group must engage in some form of expressive association. States have a compelling interesting in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.

READ MORE