The Washington Posts writes, “The executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has unanimously approved a resolution that would drop the group’s blanket ban on openly gay leaders, a key step that puts the organization on the verge of its second historic shift in three years.” Read “Judging the Boy Scouts of America: Gay Rights, Freedom of Association, and the Dale Case” for context on Scouts of America v. James Dale, a lawsuit that made its way through the courts over the course of a decade, culminating in 2000 with a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In “Judging the Boy Scouts of America,” Richard J. Ellis tells the fascinating story of the Dale case, placing it in the context of legal principles and precedents, Scouts’ policies, gay rights, and the culture wars in American politics.
As the Boy Scouts’ president calls for an end to the banning of gay leaders, Richard J. Ellis’s book “Judging the Boy Scouts of America: Gay Rights, Freedom of Association, and the Dale Case” presents the landmark James Dale case from its initial filing in New Jersey through the final decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the Scouts. In addition to examining the legal issues at stake, including the effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the law of free association, Ellis also describes Dale’s personal journey and its intersection with an evolving gay rights movement. Throughout he seeks to understand the puzzle of why the Boy Scouts would adopt and adhere to a policy that jeopardized the organization’s iconic place in American culture—and, finally, explores how legal challenges and cultural changes contributed to the Scouts’ historic policy reversal in May 2013 that ended the organization’s ban on gay youth–though not gay adults–until now.