Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

CA judges cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America due to LGBT issues

california-supreme-court-1California judges will no longer be allowed to participate in nonprofit youth groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America, that discriminate against LGBT people.

At the same time the justices lifted a ban on judges belonging to a military organization now that gays and lesbians can serve openly in the U.S. Armed Services. The change comes as transgender individuals are still barred from becoming service members, though the policy is reportedly under review.

In the case of the scouting group, although it now allows out youth to belong, it continues to ban LGBT adults from serving as troop leaders.

In an announcement issued late this afternoon (Friday, January 23), the Supreme Court of California said it had unanimously voted to eliminate an exception in Canon 2C of the California Code of Judicial Ethics that permitted judges to belong to nonprofit youth organizations that practice invidious discrimination.

The Supreme Court’s decision follows the recommendation of its Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics to eliminate the exception for nonprofit youth groups from an ethics rule that prohibits judges from holding membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

The proposed rule change was sent out for public comment last year, and the change was supported by the California Judges Association. The amended rule is now consistent with the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

Judges will have until January 21, 2016 to comply with the new rule.

“The only remaining exception to the general rule is membership in a religious organization,” stated Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Richard D. Fybel, chair of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics, in the press release. “One other exception – belonging to a military organization – was eliminated as well, because the U.S. armed forces no longer restrict military service based on sexual orientation.”

Under the California Constitution, the Supreme Court adopts the Code of Judicial Ethics, which establishes standards of ethical conduct for state judges on and off the bench and for candidates for judicial officer.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 23, 2015 @ 5:59 pm PST
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