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When the city of Boston received a request to fly a Christian flag in front of city hall back in 2017, like all of the other flags they agreed to fly for other groups, the request was denied by city officials.
Harold Shurtleff, the man whose request was denied, sued the city for discrimination and he has won his case. Unanimously.
The Supreme Court rules that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment when it refused to fly an outside group’s Christian flag in front of city hall (despite flying various other groups’ flags). The decision is unanimous, and it’s the only opinion of the day.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 2, 2022
According to the opinion, the city of Boston had flown around 50 different flags up to that point for nearly 300 different ceremonies, including the gay pride flag. But when it came to the Christian flag, it was denied on the phony basis that it would violate the establishment clause:
Just outside the entrance to Boston City Hall, on City Hall Plaza, stand three flagpoles. Boston flies the American flag from the first pole and the flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the second. Boston usually flies the city’s own flag from the third pole. But Boston has, for years, allowed groups to hold ceremonies on the plaza during which participants may hoist a flag of their choosing on the third pole in place of the city’s flag. Between 2005 and 2017, Boston approved the raising of about 50 unique flags for 284 such ceremonies. Most of these flags were other countries’, but some were associated with groups or causes, such as the Pride Flag, a banner honoring emergency medical service workers, and others. In 2017, Harold Shurtleff, the director of an organization called Camp Constitution, asked to hold an event on the plaza to celebrate the civic and social contributions of the Christian community; as part of that ceremony, he wished to raise what he described as the “Christian flag.” The commissioner of Boston’s Property Management Department worried that flying a religious flag at City Hall could violate the Establishment Clause and found no past instance of the city’s having raised such a flag. He therefore told Shurtleff that the group could hold an event on the plaza but could not raise their flag during it.
Shurtleff and Camp Constitution (petitioners) sued, claiming that Boston’s refusal to let them raise their flag violated, among other things, the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause. The District Court held that flying private groups’ flags from City Hall’s third flagpole amounted to government speech, so Boston could refuse petitioners’ request without running afoul of the First Amendment. The First Circuit affirmed. This Court granted certiorari to decide whether the flags Boston allows others to fly express government speech, and whether Boston could, consistent with the Free Speech Clause, deny petitioners’ flag-raising request.
Here’s the basic ruling that, again, was agreed to by all nine justices:
Because the flag-raising program did not express government speech, Boston’s refusal to let petitioners fly their flag violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. When the government does not speak for itself, it may not exclude private speech based on “religious viewpoint”; doing so “constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination.”
It’s a shame that a court had to even make such a ruling, but leftists for decades have been using the 1st amendment to discriminate against Christians. This ruling establishes what is common sense to most people, which is that the free speech of America’s citizenry is not even remotely the same thing as the government establishing a religion. And that includes free speech of the people who work for the government.
If you want to see a government that has established a religion look no further than commies in China, which established its own version of Christianity because it didn’t like the local house churches that it couldn’t control.