To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library




Boy Scouts of America v. Dale

Citation. 530 U.S. 640 (2000)
Law Students: Don’t know your Studybuddy Pro login? Register here

Brief Fact Summary.

The Court upheld the First Amendment expressive association right of the Boy Scouts to exclude James Dale on the ground that he had publicly disclosed his homosexuality. The Court held that New Jersey may not apply its public accommodations law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation to require the Boy Scouts to admit Dale.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The forced inclusion of an unwanted person in a group infringes the group’s freedom of expressive association if the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.


The Boy Scouts, a private, nonprofit organization, had its stated mission to serve others by helping to instill values in young people and to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime in achieving their full potential. The Boy Scouts seek to instill its values by having its adult leaders spend time with youth members, instructing and engaging them in various activities. New Jersey required the Boy Scouts to admit James Dale, who had publicly disclosed his homosexuality to the group.


Does forcing the Boy Scouts to admit James Dale, who had publicly disclosed his homosexuality to the group violate the Constitution?


Yes, because the Boy Scouts engaged in expressive association it has the stated mission of instilling values in young people. The group has sought to transmit various values and engages in expressive activity. Dale’s presence in the Boy Scouts would significantly burden the Boy Scouts’ desire to not promote homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior and thus, the Boy Scouts may refuse to admit Dale to the group without violating the Constitution.


Justice Stevens

A State’s anti-discrimination law does not impose a serious burden or a substantial restraint on the group’s shared goals if the group itself is unable to identify its own stance with any clarity. Dale’s inclusion sends no cognizable message to the Scouts or to the world. He did not carry a banner or a sign nor did he distribute any fact sheet or express such an intent.


The Court must give deference to an association’s assertions regarding the nature of its expression and view of what would impair its expression. Dale, by his own admission, is one of a group of gay Scouts who have become leaders in their community and are open and honest about sexual orientation. He was the co-president of a gay and lesbian organization at college. His presence in the Boy Scouts would force the organization to send a message to the youth members that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior, which is inconsistent with the organization’s long-held belief against homosexuality.

Create New Group

Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following