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Supreme Courtroom: Boston Ought to Have Let the Christian Flag F…… | Information & Reporting

By hoisting 50 different flags up town corridor flagpole however turning down one Christian flag, town of Boston violated the Structure and denied a Christian group its free speech rights, the US Supreme Courtroom dominated Monday.

The unanimous decision declared that as a result of Boston’s flagpole hadn’t been used for presidency speech however as a public discussion board for a whole bunch of teams to make use of, town discriminated towards the group—Camp Structure—that utilized for the ecumenical flag to fly for a day.

“When the federal government doesn’t communicate for itself, it could not exclude non-public speech based mostly on ‘non secular viewpoint,’” wrote outgoing Supreme Courtroom justice Stephen Breyer within the opinion; “doing so ‘constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination.’”

Christian non secular liberty advocates are celebrating the ruling as a win, coming simply over a month after the excessive courtroom sided with the religious rights of a Texas death row inmate requesting prayer at his execution.

“In one of many final opinions Justice Breyer will ever write (he retires on the finish of the time period), he says, ‘…Boston’s refusal to permit petitioners to lift their flag due to its non secular viewpoint violated the Free Speech Clause,’” tweeted John Litzler, an legal professional in Texas who represents Christian nonprofits.

“That is the 2nd of 4 totally different non secular liberty instances being determined by SCOTUS this time period,” Litzler added. “The selections so far have been 8-1 and 9-0 in favor of these asserting non secular liberty claims. Freedom of faith & non secular speech are usually not controversial or partisan points.”

Brent Leatherwood, appearing president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Non secular Liberty Fee, called the choice “a welcome addition to free speech jurisprudence.”

Pastor Chris Butler, a board member for the And Marketing campaign and a US congressional candidate in Illinois, said the 9–0 resolution was “spot-on” and that “faith MUST NEVER be the premise for exclusion.”

The courtroom’s opinion centered on how readily Boston accepted permits to fly different flags on one in every of three flagpoles exterior of metropolis corridor, permitting 50 distinctive flags at 284 ceremonies between 2005 and 2017, together with LGBT flags and flags of different international locations.

“Certainly, town’s follow was to approve flag raisings with out exception—that’s, till petitioners’ request,” Breyer wrote.

The plaintiff within the case, Hal Shurtleff, had requested to fly the Christian flag—a white flag with a blue field and purple cross within the nook—in entrance of metropolis corridor on Structure Day as a option to honor Christians’ civic contributions. His group, Camp Structure, promotes the nation’s “Judeo-Christian ethical heritage.”

The truth that town of Boston emphasised lodging and framed Metropolis Corridor Plaza as a public discussion board slightly than an outlet for its personal views undercut its argument that permitting a spiritual flag can be authorities speech slightly than non-public expression by residents like Shurtleff.

The choice notes that “nothing prevents Boston from altering its insurance policies going ahead,” and different cities have been extra selective in approving flags and designate that their poles are usually not a discussion board free of charge expression.

“This 9–0 resolution from the Supreme Courtroom strikes a victory for personal speech in a public discussion board,” mentioned Mat Staver, whose group Liberty Counsel represented Shurtleff.

“This case is a lot extra important than a flag. Boston brazenly discriminated towards viewpoints it disfavored when it opened the flagpoles to all candidates after which excluded Christian viewpoints. Authorities can’t censor non secular viewpoints beneath the guise of presidency speech.”

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch every penned concurring opinions with differing reasoning for why Boston’s rejection of Shurtleff’s allow utility was mistaken.

Gorsurch centered on town’s claims that permitting the Christian flag to fly would violate the institution clause. He criticized Boston’s use of the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman decision, which needed to do with faculties and church-state separation.

“For so long as the First Modification means something, authorities insurance policies that discriminate towards non secular speech and train will solely invite litigation and lead to losses like Boston’s,” Gorsuch wrote.

“Immediately’s case is only one extra in an extended line of reminders concerning the prices related to governmental efforts to discriminate towards disfavored non secular audio system.”

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