The constitutional rights to free expression and free association means that groups can ban those who don’t share their beliefs, the 5-4 decision said. Forcing the Scouts to accept gay troop leaders would violate the group’s rights.
The ruling reversed a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that the Scouts were wrong to expel assistant scoutmaster James Dale when the organization learned he is gay. The state court had said the dismissal violated a New Jersey anti-discrimination law.
The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative advocacy group that filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Boy Scouts, said the ruling will allow all private organizations to define their own missions.
The Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, called the ruling a travesty of justice that would allow open-membership groups to evade state and local nondiscrimination laws.
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