The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution when it refused to allow a Christian flag to be flown outside City Hall in 2018.
The suit was filed by the group Camp Constitution, which works to “enhance understanding of the country’s Judeo-Christian moral heritage,” after its request to fly a flag described as “Christian” on one of City Hall’s three outdoor flagpoles during a city program “celebrating Boston’s greater community” was denied by the city.
“We conclude that, on balance, Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups’ flags a form of government speech,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the court’s opinion.
The court ruled that the flag display is a public forum, and since other groups had previously been allowed to raise their flags in celebration of the community during such programs, the denial by the city to fly the Christian flag amounted to discrimination based on the group’s religious viewpoint.
Boston has “allowed its flag to be lowered and other flags to be raised with some regularity,” Breyer wrote.
SCOTUS Blog, which tracks real-time Supreme Court happenings, wrote of the Boston ruling, “perhaps most importantly, the city wielded virtually no control over the messages that the flags in the program conveyed: It had no record of denying any flag-raising requests before [Camp Constitution], and it did not have any guidelines about what flags were permitted under the program.”
They continued, “And because the flag-raising program was not speech by the city, Breyer concluded, the city’s denial of [Camp Constitution’s] request for the sole reason that the flag promoted Christianity discriminated against” Camp Constitution, and violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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