‘The word ‘Christian’ on the application alone triggered the censorship’
Officials in Boston have designated one of the flagpoles outside their city hall as a public forum, and they have approved hundreds of private flags, from pride-themed, to religious to those representing foreign nations, to fly there ceremonially.
But when a local organization, Camp Constitution, requested permission to fly a Christian flag, officials refused.
And they claimed their rules didn’t allow Christian flags to be flown.
Officials from Camp Constitution were joined by the legal team at Liberty Counsel in protesting the city’s agenda, and now that fight is being presented to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Liberty Counsel said on Monday it has filed a petition to the court on behalf of Boston resident Hal Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution, arguing the city violated the First Amendment by censoring a private flag in a public forum “merely because the application form referred to the flag as a ‘Christian flag.'”
The filing contends: “The first Circuit’s government speech finding cannot be correct under this court’s precedents because (1) the city’s flag raising application form designates the flag poles as a ‘public forum’ for the private speech of ‘all applicants;’ (2) the city never censored a flag from 284 applications over 12 years prior to Camp Constitution’s application; (30 the city approved 39 flags (averaging over three per month) in the year prior to Camp Constitution’s application; and (4) the raising of other country’s flags cannot be the city’s speech because it would be a crime under state law for the city to raise another country’s flag on city hall.”
According to Liberty Counsel, “Despite the clear evidence presented at trial, the First Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city of Boston’s censorship of the Christian viewpoint on the public forum, a place designated as a ‘public forum’ by Boston’s written policy and confirmed by its unbroken practice during which it never censored private speech – until Camp Constitution’s application. The Court of Appeals expanded the government speech cases far beyond Supreme Court precedent.”
The flag in dispute is white with a blue square that includes a red cross. It has no writing.