(WASHINGTON) — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment when it denied a civic group from flying the Christian Flag from city hall flagpoles to mark Constitution Day.
The group — Camp Constitution — had argued that the third of three flagpoles was regularly available to mark commemorations and special events. The city approved more than 280 flyings over a dozen years but only rejected one — Camp Constitution’s Christian flag.
The city said allowing that flag would have been impermissible government speech, but Justice Stephen Breyer and the entire court disagreed.
Justice Breyer, writing for the court, said, “We conclude that, on balance, Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups’ flags a form of government speech. That means, in turn, that Boston’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution raise their flag based on its religious viewpoint ‘abridg[ed]’ their ‘freedom of speech.'”
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