Boston Can’t Ban Christian Flag

Hal Shurtleff, a co-founder of Camp Constitution, and Pastor Earl Wallace of Liberty Christian Fellowship of New York hold what they call “the Christian flag” outside the federal courthouse in South Boston in 2019.

“The city of Boston violated the free speech rights of a faith-based group when it refused to fly the organization’s Christian flag while approving the flags of numerous other groups, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday. The court’s 9-0 decision concerns a unique program in Boston that permits private groups to fly flags of their choosing outside Boston City Hall. The court noted that the city approved ‘hundreds of requests to raise dozens of different flags’–that is, until the Christian civic organization Camp Constitution requested that the Christian flag be flown. The city of Boston declined the group’s request, arguing it would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Camp Constitution then sued but lost at the district court and the appeals court level. On Monday, the Supreme Court said Boston’s action violated the Free Speech Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the court’s opinion. ‘The city did not deny a single request to raise a flag until’ Harold Shurtleff of Camp Constitution made his request, Breyer wrote. He noted that the city had allowed flags of other countries, a flag of a bank, and the LGBT Pride flag to be flown. ‘For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that Boston’s flagraising program does not express government speech,’ Breyer wrote. ‘As a result, the city’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution fly their flag based on its religious viewpoint violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.’ ‘This 9-0 decision from the Supreme Court strikes a victory for private speech in a public forum,’ said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. ‘This case is so much more significant than a flag. Government cannot censor religious viewpoints under the guise of government speech.’”

“Supreme Court,” Christian Headlines, May 2, 2022