The US Supreme Court docket on Monday dominated that the town of Boston violated a Massachusetts man’s first modification rights by refusing to fly a Christian flag at metropolis corridor.
In a ruling written by Justice Stephen Breyer, all 9 members of the nation’s highest courtroom agreed that the town mustn’t have stored Harold Shurtleff’s flag off the flagpole, which the town had already agreed could possibly be utilized by a financial institution and to acknowledge Homosexual Pleasure Week.
Shurtleff heads a spiritual group referred to as Camp Structure. He had argued that his group was denied a allow in 2017 to boost a Christian flag on considered one of three Metropolis Corridor flag poles in reference to an occasion. Camp Structure stated Boston’s flagpole is a public discussion board, an idea in First Modification legislation utilized by courts to assist analyze when the federal government might regulate speech on public property. The federal government can’t limit speech based mostly on a speaker’s viewpoint in a public discussion board. The courtroom dominated the town blocked Shurtleff for no different motive than the non secular message his flag carried.
“The town’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Structure fly their flag based mostly on its non secular viewpoint violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Modification,” Breyer wrote. “Whereas the historic observe of flag flying at authorities buildings favors Boston, the town’s lack of significant involvement within the number of flags or the crafting of their messages leads us to categorise the flag raisings as personal, not authorities, speech—although nothing prevents Boston from altering its insurance policies going ahead.”
Based on the courtroom, Shurtleff’s request was the one time the town refused to fly a flag between 2005 and 2017. Throughout that point, the town accredited 284 requests from a wide range of companies and organizations, the courtroom stated.
“This case is a lot extra important than a flag,” stated Mathew Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Christian authorized group that represented Camp Structure. “Boston brazenly discriminated in opposition to viewpoints it disfavored when it opened the flagpoles to all candidates after which excluded Christian viewpoints.”
Boston had argued that the flags on its flagpole are a type of authorities speech – not a public discussion board – and that metropolis officers might select the messages they need to convey.
“The primary and primary query we should reply is whether or not Boston’s flag-raising program constitutes authorities, speech,” Breyer wrote. “If that’s the case, Boston might refuse flags based mostly on viewpoint. The First Modification’s Free Speech Clause doesn’t stop the federal government from declining to precise a view. That have to be true for presidency to work. Boston couldn’t simply congratulate the Purple Sox on a victory have been the town powerless to say no to concurrently transmit the views of upset Yankees followers.”