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US Supreme Court rules Boston must allow Christian flag to fly outside city hall

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment by refusing to allow the flying a Christian flag in front of city hall.


In the Shurtleff v. Boston decision penned by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, the Supreme Court ruled that because the city of Boston’s flag-raising program “did not express government speech,” Boston’s refusal to let petitioners fly their “Christian flag” “violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

The decision noted that Boston “approved the raising of about 50 unique flags” for 284 ceremonies held on the plaza between 2005 and 2017, most of which were the flags of other countries, but some of which “were associated with groups or causes, such as the [homosexual] Pride Flag,” or “a banner honoring emergency medical service workers.”

Breyer pointed out that while “flags on Boston’s City Hall Plaza usually convey the city’s messages,” “Boston’s lack of meaningful involvement in the selection of” various private groups’ flags, and in “the crafting of their messages, leads the Court to classify the third-party flag raisings as private, not government, speech.”


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