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Boy Scouts cannot lease city property, court upholds

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court’s finding that the Boy Scouts cannot lease city-owned parkland in Balboa Park because it is a religious organization.

The nation’s high court refused to hear an appeal from San Diego-area Scouts who had traditionally leased the 18-acre Camp Balboa for $1 per year.

U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled in 2003 that the city failed to follow its usual procedures and engaged in “private, exclusive negotiations” with the Boy Scouts, culminating in a long-term lease of the park property.

Jones found the lease violated federal law that prohibits government promoting religion, noting that belief in God was central to the Boy Scouts of America’s principles.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of San Diego and the Boy Scouts in 2000 on behalf of a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple, both with young sons.