Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday morning in the federal civil trial focusing on the dispute between the City of Philadelphia and the local Boy Scouts over whether the Scouts can be evicted from their Center City headquarters for refusing to renounce the organization's ban on homosexuals.
A jury of six women and two men was selected Monday for the trial. U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter, who is presiding over the trial, told jurors to avoid any news media accounts about the case, and not to discuss the case with family, friends - or on Facebook or Twitter.
A landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 said that the Boy Scouts, as a "membership organization," could exclude gay youth and troop leaders. But the City contends that the local Cradle of Liberty Council refusal to explicitly reject the national scout policy violates the City Charter. The City ordered the Scouts to vacate their 80-year-old headquarters they had occupied rent-free, or pay $200,000 a year to lease the building. The headquarters is on a half-acre property at 22d and Winter Streets. The land was turned over to the Cradle of Liberty Scouts in 1928, and the local organization built the headquarters and gave the building to the city Park Commission in return for the free lease.