The following comes from a March 18 story in UT SanDiego.
A lawsuit filed more than a decade ago that sought to cancel leases the Boy Scouts had with the city of San Diego for using property at Balboa Park and Mission Bay is officially over.
In December, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Scouts and declared the leases legal, concluding they did not violate the state or federal constitution ban on giving aid or preference to religious groups. The ruling overturned a lower-court ruling that struck down the leases.
The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, which filed the suit in 2000 on behalf of a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple in San Diego, could have appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The deadline to file a request for the high court to take the case is this week. David Loy, the ACLU’s legal director in San Diego, said Monday no such appeal will be made.
“We’re not pursuing it any further,” Loy said.
His comments came after U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez, in a brief hearing Friday, entered a court order finding the case in favor of the Scouts, as the appeals court had directed.
That means the lawsuit, which once drew national attention, is now over….
The suit was one of several filed nationally against scouting groups in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000, which said that the Boy Scouts were a private organization and could discriminate in its membership policies….
For decades, the Scouts have leased 16 acres in Balboa Park and a half-acre on Fiesta Island for camping and other recreational activities. The organization used to pay a nominal fee of $1 a year in rent for the Balboa Park lease, but in 2002 — after the lawsuit was filed — the city struck a new, 25-year lease with the group.
Under the new terms, the Scouts pay the same $1 in rent but also must pay an annual administration fee initially set at $2,500. The lease also requires the Scouts to maintain the property and make $1.7 million in improvements.
The lawsuit alleged because of the Scouts’ discriminatory policies the two families felt unwelcome in the organization, and the leases effectively prohibited their sons from enjoying the use of public, city-owned land. It also alleged the city showed favoritism in awarding the leases.
A federal judge agreed in 2003, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December swept aside that ruling. The appeals court noted the city has scores of leases with nonprofit groups, including those affiliated with churches and those that limit membership based on race or ethnicity.
The court said the leases are “incidental” aid to the Scouts, and the purpose of the lease was not to promote religious activities.
The city and the Scouts were named as defendants in the suit. But in 2004 the city settled with the ACLU, agreeing to terminate the leases but allowing the them to remain in effect until the case was over, including through appeals. If the Scouts won, they would get the lease for the full 25-year term.
The city also agreed to pay $950,000 to the ACLU in legal fees and costs.
The Scouts then sued the city over the settlement, but that suit was quietly dismissed by the Scouts last month, federal court records show
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