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San Diego Union-Tribune

2:29 p.m., July 31, 2003

Judge says use violates separation of church and state

By Ray Huard

The Boy Scouts' lease of public land in San Diego's Balboa Park is unconstitutional, a federal judge decided in a ruling released

U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. said the Scouts' lease of the 18-acre Camp Balboa in Balboa Park violates provisions in the U.S. and state constitutions governing the separation of church and state.

Jones said the Boy Scouts are a religious organization because the Scouts require members to profess a belief in God. The American Civil Liberties Union sued over the lease in August 2000 on behalf of a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple and their son.

Deputy City Attorney John Mullen issued a statement that said "the City Attorney's Office will analyze the decision and seek direction from the City Council."

The council will review the ruling in a closed session Tuesday, Mullen said.

A lawyer for the ACLU, Jordan Budd, said the council should cancel its lease with the Scouts unless the Scouts change their policies against admitting homosexuals and requiring members to express a belief in God.

"We believe it is long past time for the City Council to end its affiliation with this discriminatory organization and to keep open this public parkland for the use of all citizens of San Diego on a fair and equal basis and not just those citizens preferred by the Boy Scouts," Budd said.

The Boy Scouts have a 50-year, $1-a-year lease that is due to expire in 2007. The City Council in December renewed the lease at the Scouts' request for 25 years, with a city option to extend the lease an additional 15 years.

Under terms of the lease, the Scouts must spend $1.7 million over the next seven years to upgrade Camp Balboa. The Scouts also are required to pay the city an annual administrative fee initially set at $2,500.

In a press release, the Desert Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America expressed disappointment with the judge's ruling. The council used its own money to construct and maintain Camp Balboa, according to the release, building nine camp sites, bringing water and power to the property, and building a swimming pool, parking lot, restroom and showers, meeting rooms, and a residence and office for a camp ranger.

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties
P.O. Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131
Tel: 619/232-2121 Fax: 619/232-0036

Charles A. Bird, President
Candace M. Carroll, National Board Representative
Linda Hills, Executive Director
Jordan C. Budd, Managing Attorney



For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Contact: Dale Kelly Bankhead (619) 232-2121 x25

(San Diego) United States District Court Judge Napoleon Jones has ruled that the Boy Scouts' lease with the City of San Diego for virtually free space in city-owned Balboa Park violates constitutional First Amendment protections and is inconsistent with "values requiring tolerance and inclusion in the public realm."

The Judge also ruled that he needed additional factual information about the Scouts' lease with the City for space on Fiesta Island and has ordered a trial on that issue.

ACLU and Morrison & Foerster spokespeople are available for print and electronic interviews.

Contact Dale Kelly Bankhead at (619) 232-2121 x25 to make interview arrangements.

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