Sunday night, March 15, the Eagle Board of the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, made up of three parents and three Boy Scout executives from the Council, voted unanimously to award Michael and William Randall their Eagle badges. While the decision is subject to final approval by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, whose decision is expected in four to six weeks, the ACLU knows of no instance in Scouting's history where the National Council has refused to confirm the award once the Eagle Board has approved it.
"This victory is long past due," said Taylor Flynn, an ACLU of Southern California attorney who represents the Randall twins. "It is unfortunate that the Boy Scouts have felt the need to dig in and thwart the inspiring work of two young men who are such a credit to their Boy Scout Council, their community and this nation."
The Orange County Council had initially refused to convene an Eagle Board to hear the boys' applications, and only did so upon order by the Superior Court of Orange County. On February 23, Superior Court Judge Richard O. Frazee ordered the Council to proceed with the application process. Michael and William have been active members in Scouting for the past nine years and were selected to be members of the equivalent of Scouting's honor society, the Order of the Arrow, to which less than five percent of all Scouts belong. They submitted their applications to be Eagle Scouts in November 1997, but the Orange County Council had refused to consider their applications.
The ACLU of Southern California argued before the California Supreme Court on January 5 in Randall vs. Boy Scouts of America, Orange County Council, challenging the Boy Scout policy excluding those who will not affirm a belief in God. Michael and William had been expelled as nine-year-old cub scouts when they refused to say the word "God" in taking the Boy Scout oath.
The suit charges religious discrimination based on the Unruh Civil Rights Act. On April 25, 1991, the Orange County Superior Court granted an injunction barring the Orange County Council from refusing to allow the Randall twins to participate in Scouting or from requiring them to use the word "God" in the oath.
After a lengthy trial, on May 7, 1992, the Superior Court ruled that the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts is a business and is subject to the anti-discrimination protections of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a decision affirmed by the Court of Appeal on February 28, 1994. The Council appealed that ruling to the California Supreme Court. A decision from the California Supreme Court is expected later this year.