Boston flew three flags at its city hall for more than twelve years. The flags that were first displayed in front of Boston’s city hall included the United States flag and the Massachusetts state flag. Boston raised the city’s flag for the third.
However, there are occasions when the city will allow groups from the local area to temporarily hoist their flags on the final spot. Local cultural organisations raised flags representing almost all of the countries represented by Boston Pride and Chinese Progressive Association.
Over 12 years, Boston approved 284 flag-raising applications—and denied just one.
Christian civic group formed July 2017 Camp ConstitutionThe patriotic family camp hosts an annual event called “To Enhance Understanding of Our Judeo-Christian Moral Heritage.” They applied to raise the “Christian Flag” for one hour. The group also planned to give “short speeches” by local clergy about Boston’s past around the flagpole.
Boston didn’t have any written policies for reviewing these applications at that time. Camp Constitution was denied by a city official despite the absence of any guidance. His reason: “The prominent religious imagery”Be concernedHe believed that raising the flag would violate the Constitution. Establishment ClauseThe U.S. Constitution.
However, they lost the case to a lower court. Finally, the group won. Shurtleff v. BostonThe case was brought to the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court. It may have been ruled against the city.
Many justices were skeptical about Boston’s claims in the course of their hearings oral argumentsIn January. Justice Samuel Alito pointedly asked Justice Samuel Alito, the lawyer for the city: “Are not you creating a forum to allow private speech instead of speaking your own mind?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh added that the Establishment Clause was at the heart of the city’s position.
The latest developments look promising for Camp Constitution but the legal precedent is murky. The 2015 case Walker v. Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Court ruled that specialty license plates are government speech—and thus that Texas was not required to approve a group’s request to create a plate bearing the Confederate battle flag. The Court ruled in 2017 that the plate bearing Confederate battle flags was not required to be approved by Texas. Side withProvocatively called “Asian-American Dance-Rock Band” The SlantsThe court ruled that trademarks cannot be denied by the government for names “disparaging”.
The Court’s decision in this case hinges on the Court ruling that Boston’s flagpole served as a “public address system.”Designated public forum“—public property that the government is not obligated to open for free expression but has nonetheless designated for that purpose—or as a form of government speech. It is most likely that it will find Camp Constitution the victim of illegal viewpoint discrimination. It is more likely that it will support the city if the former is true, as the government cannot be seen to favor one religious group over another.
Yet, the American Civil Liberties Union is (ACLU). SubmittedIn AmicusThe brief on the case states that “When the Government creates a forum for public discussion, it usually does not violate Article 1 of the Establishment Clause to allow religious speakers access to the forum under the same conditions as those applicable to other speakers”.
Boston’s challenges to equal access in public places is a violation of the constitution. Anyone who cherishes freedom of expression should be concerned. David Cole, ACLU National Legal Director, stated that the right to equal access to public forums is a constitutional requirement. ABC NewsThis case concerns private citizens’ rights to access government property for their own expression. That access is essential to our ability speak with one another, and express our views. The flag of Camp Constitution can be raised regardless of its religious affiliation.
If the Court rules that Boston’s flag raising program is not a public forum it will give the city the authority to discriminate as they please. This case will determine whether or not state actors have the right to use the Establishment Clause in order to violate First Amendment rights of religious groups over many years.