Boston took a 9-0 loss handed to them directly from the United States Supreme Court who ruled unanimously that the city violated a Christian group’s freedom of speech by not flying their flag outside of the city hall.
This 9-0 court decision overturned a previous case from a lower court, specifically Shurtleff vs City of Boston, in which the city’s flag-raising program would grant requests from private groups to fly their flag outside of city hall, but Boston rejected the request from a man named Harold Shurtleff. He’s the man who organizes a Christian group, and they wanted to fly a flag with a red cross on top of a white and blue background.
The group, once rejected, said their freedom of speech was violated and they ended up with their case being ruled on by the Supreme Court.
The city of Boston tried to defend their decision to reject the Christian group’s flag by saying it could be considered a governmental endorsement of religion, per report.
“When the government encourages diverse expression – say, by creating a forum for debate – the First Amendment prevents it from discriminating against speakers based on their viewpoint,” Justice Stephen Breyer, who delivered the opinion of the court, wrote. “But when the government speaks for itself, the First Amendment does not demand airtime for all views.”
That question, whether the flags flown outside of Boston’s city hall represent government speech or an open forum for debate, was at the heart of the case. But the justices ruled that the flag-raising program was not a representation of government speech, saying that by refusing to allow the Christian group to fly its flag, Boston abridged its First Amendment right under the free speech clause.
It seems like the only way the city of Boston could reject the religious flag was to have it in writing beforehand, but that remains debatable as well.
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