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Hannity

This Land Is Not Your Land?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", February 11, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: A new controversy is brewing over the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts are suing the city of San Diego because of lawsuit settlement that the city reached with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Boy Scouts will, in effect, lose their lease for a public park that they have held for nearly half a century.

The ACLU objects to the Boy Scouts using a public park, because they say the group discriminates against home hopes and people who don't believe in God.

Joining us now, George Davidson, lead counsel for the Boy Scouts.

How are you? Good to see you.

GEORGE DAVIDSON, LEAD COUNSEL FOR BOY SCOUTS: Hi, Sean.

HANNITY: You know, I think the time has come -- and I may surprise you here, because I'm a big supporter of the Scouts -- because of what is happening in the changing culture we have in society, and that is, you know, you're being attacked by atheists.

You have women suing to be in the Boy Scouts. You're having, you know, gays and lesbians. They want to have Scoutmasters. All the way down the line.

I think it's time that the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, if you want you must pull yourself away from any government connection at all. And just say, get away, get out of our life.

Because I'm sick and tired of them assaulting this great organization the way they have. Do you agree?

DAVIDSON: Well, I'd certainly hate to see the Boy Scouts not be able to go camping in our national parks or our state parks or our community parks. These are available for all of our citizens, whatever their beliefs.

HANNITY: I agree with you, and I think you have every right to go to every national park that you have. And in this particular case it's about a lease, correct?

DAVIDSON: Right. Right.

HANNITY: I'm just saying you cannot look to them for financial support. You should have the same access that everybody else does, but remain private so that these people will not -- you will not be beholden to them anymore.

And you can set your own bylaws, your own rules, and do it any way you want to do it.

DAVIDSON: Sean, the Boy Scouts have always been privately supported. The Boy Scouts don't rely on government money for any of their programs and never have.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: But you use government properties. But as you know, I was a Scout.

DAVIDSON: Yes. What happened?

COLMES: I became a good American.

Now, for example, the people who brought this suit, a same-sex couple and a couple that doesn't believe in God brought the suit. Would they be welcome in the Scouts?

DAVIDSON: Absolutely. They wouldn't be welcome in the Scouts but they'd be welcome in Camp Balboa. The Boy Scouts run that camp for the benefit of the entire community, and it is widely used by others than the Boy Scouts.

COLMES: Now in 1992 and again in 1998, in legal briefs was it not said that the Boy Scouts were a religious organization?

DAVIDSON: Well, Alan, the Boy Scouts are an organization of people who believe in God. All kinds of different conceptions of God. Every religion from A to Z and people that aren't associated with specific religions.

COLMES: I understand it's not a particular religion, but if you are atheist or someone that doesn't believe in God, you are not welcome there.

DAVIDSON: That's right. You can't say I promise to do my best to do my duty to God.

COLMES: So isn't that discrimination?

DAVIDSON: Absolutely not, Alan. The Girl Scouts is not a discriminatory organization, because they only take girls...

COLMES: Sure. Only girls get in. You're saying only believers of God can get in and those who, I guess, are heterosexuals?

DAVIDSON: It's like any organization. If you believe what the organization believes, you join it. If you have different beliefs, you go elsewhere.

COLMES: But if there are federal laws against using federal property or federal facilities for any organization that discriminates in any way, maybe Sean is right. Become a totally private organization.

DAVIDSON: Well, Alan, in addition to laws ,we have the United States Constitution, which prevents government from discriminating against citizens on the ground of religion or any number of other bases.

COLMES: But wouldn't that indicate that if you don't have religion, wouldn't that be you're discriminating against those who don't have religion?

DAVIDSON: Well, you have to distinguish between the Boy Scouts' right to have their own membership requirements and the government, which is entitled to -- which has to keep everybody treated equally. The government can't discriminate against the Boy Scouts for believing in God.

COLMES: Now Mr. Davidson, back in '92 and '98, when the atheists wanted to be Scout leaders, that's when the brief state you were a religious organization.

Now in San Diego, aren't you saying something very different, and isn't there a double standard here?

DAVIDSON: We've been taking the same position all the time. You have to believe in God to be a Boy Scout. You don't have to be associated with any particular organized religion. Boy Scouts is not a religion sect.

COLMES: But you said religious organization in '92 and '98.

DAVIDSON: Well, that can be taken...

COLMES: It's not a religious sect, but you're a religious organization?

DAVIDSON: Well, is Cochise an Indian? You know, if you mean American Indian, yes. If it means somebody who lives in the country of India, no.

COLMES: What's going to happen here, do you think?

DAVIDSON: What's going to happen here? Well, we've always won on appeal. And we intend to take the case all the way and be victorious.

COLMES: And do you think you'll go all the way to the Supreme Court with this, if necessary?

DAVIDSON: If necessary.

COLMES: This is costing the Boy Scouts a lot of money.

DAVIDSON: Well, you know, when the ACLU was given by the city of San Diego a $950,000 war chest, that's not helpful.

COLMES: So what are you spending on this?

DAVIDSON: It's costly. It's costly.

HANNITY: Hey, George, I want to make sure you understand my point.

I've raised tens of thousands of dollars for local Boy Scouts for charity both myself and a friend of mine are involved in it. And I'm glad to do it.

I -- What I'm trying to say is, you know, the idea that these special interest groups -- gay and lesbian groups, feminist groups, atheist groups -- have been attacking the organization.

I'm just saying it's time. Don't ask for anything from the government. And go to the American people and make your case. And as a private organization, people like myself, I'll be glad to help raise you money.

And buy your own land. You don't need their land. You don't need their special deal. And you set your own bylaws and tell everybody else to go jump in the lake.

DAVIDSON: Sean, if nobody stands up for their constitutional rights - - If nobody stands up for their constitutional rights, nobody has any constitutional rights.

HANNITY: I'm not saying to give up your constitutional rights. I'm saying you're wasting all of your time and money fighting this thing. And we ought to be just worried about the kids.

DAVIDSON: The Boy Scouts should be able to use the park like anybody else.

HANNITY: But in this case you're getting a special deal on the park.

DAVIDSON: Over 100 other organization have deals in the park.

HANNITY: I understand that. But the point is, if you expect something from the government, they're going to continue to expect to have a say in your organization.

And I'm saying I think you ought to have complete and full autonomy so people like Alan can't say, "Well, taxpayer dollars help tribute to the benefit of the Boy Scouts."

DAVIDSON: At the end of the day I think the courts will agree that we have that autonomy.

HANNITY: All right. I'm just saying if you brought your case to people like me and the American people, we'd raise the money for you to go get your own land. And I think you'd be better off. Then you focus on the kids, not on his liberal friends.

DAVIDSON: Well, that's the focus of the Scouts is on the kids.

COLMES: Nothing wrong with liberal friends. I also have some conservative friends, by the way. You're one of them.

Thank you very much for -- Aren't you?

HANNITY: Yes, Alan.

COLMES: We'll be back tomorrow night. Thank you very much, Mr. Davidson.

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