PHILADELPHIA – The city of Philadelphia cannot evict a local Boy Scouts chapter from a city-owned building for refusing to admit gays, a federal jury ruled Wednesday.
The city had insisted that nonprofits given free use of its property must abide by local anti-discrimination laws. But the jury found the city’s reason violated First Amendment rights.
In their lawsuit, the Scouts had sought an injunction barring the city from evicting them or charging $200,000 a year in rent.
“The city defended this suit in a very principled way, in an area of the law that is highly nuanced – constitutional law – and highly unpredictable,” U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter told jurors after the verdict.
In his view, he said, the city can still terminate the lease under the 1928 agreement. However, the city must terminate the lease for a legally permissible reason.