(CP) The US Supreme Court docket has dominated that metropolis officers in Boston, Massachusetts, have been mistaken to ban a gaggle from flying a Christian flag at metropolis corridor.
In an opinion released Monday morning within the case of Harold Shurtleff, et al. v. Boston, MA, et al., the excessive courtroom unanimously dominated to reverse a decrease courtroom resolution and remand the case again to the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the courtroom’s opinion, by which he concluded that “the First Modification prevents [the government] from discriminating in opposition to audio system based mostly on their viewpoint.”
At challenge, in line with the courtroom’s opinion, was whether or not Boston’s flag coverage represented authorities speech; if it did, then it had the correct to reject the Christian flag.
“We conclude that, on steadiness, Boston didn’t make the elevating and flying of personal teams’ flags a type of authorities speech,” wrote Breyer.
“Meaning, in flip, that Boston’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Structure increase their flag based mostly on its spiritual viewpoint ‘abridg[ed]’ their ‘freedom of speech.'”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh authored a concurring opinion, by which he wrote that “a authorities doesn’t violate the Institution Clause merely as a result of it treats spiritual individuals, organizations, and speech equally with secular individuals, organizations, and speech in public packages, advantages, amenities, and the like.”
“Below the Structure, a authorities might not deal with spiritual individuals, spiritual organizations, or spiritual speech as second-class,” he added in his temporary concurrence.
In 2017, Harold Shurtleff of Camp Structure requested to fly the Christian flag (which incorporates a cross) outdoors of metropolis corridor on Structure Day 2017, however his request was rejected by the town.
Shurtleff filed go well with in opposition to the town in response, with him being represented by the Liberty Counsel, a distinguished conservative regulation agency that has dealt with many non secular liberty instances.
In February 2020, U.S. District Choose Denise Casper, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, dominated in favor of Boston, and a three-judge panel of the First Circuit unanimously upheld the decrease courtroom ruling in January 2021.
Choose Bruce Selya, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, wrote the panel opinion, arguing that the “three flags flying in shut proximity communicates the symbolic unity of the three flags,” and subsequently, it “strains credulity to consider that an observer would partition such a coordinated three-flag show.”
Shurtleff appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court docket, gaining the assist of teams together with the ACLU, which filed an amicus temporary in his assist.
“We’ve lengthy expressed concern about authorities endorsement of faith, and have sued typically to implement the Institution Clause,” stated ACLU Nationwide Authorized Director David Cole final November. “However when the federal government opens a discussion board to non-public audio system typically, as Boston did right here, it may’t flip away a speaker just because it’s spiritual.”