Friday, December 20, 2002
George Says Justices Will Review ‘Boy Scout Exception’
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state Supreme Court will study proposals to amend judicial ethics rules after calls by lawyer groups to bar judges from groups like the Boy Scouts that discriminate against gays, Chief Justice Ronald George said yesterday.
The seven justices decided to look more deeply into the issue on Wednesday, at their monthly administrative conference, after discussing letters from the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Bar Association of San Francisco and others, George said.
“The court had an extensive discussion about this matter and has decided to take up the matter at a future administrative conference after it undertakes a further study of the proposals,” George said in a statement released by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
George met last week with Bar Association of San Francisco President Angela Bradstreet to discuss changing the current Code of Judicial Ethics to remove the so-called Boy Scout exception. Also last week, Los Angeles County Bar Association President Miriam Krinsky sent George a letter calling for an overhaul of the rules to remove the exception.
Canon 2C of the code bars membership by a judge in any organization that practices discrimination, to avoid, in the Advisory Committee’s comment, the “perception that the judge’s impartiality is impaired.” But an exception notes that the canon “does not bar membership in a nonprofit youth organization.”
The Boy Scout policy barring homosexuals from membership was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.
Bradstreet said her meeting with George went well.
“We had a very full and frank and convivial conversation for over an hour,” Bradstreet said, adding that George promised to bring the matter to the full court.
The Supreme Court has sole power to adopt and amend the Code of Judicial Ethics.
In addition to the action by Los Angeles and San Francisco bar groups, the Santa Clara County Bar Association passed a resolution calling on judges not to participate in groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company