WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court docket unanimously dominated on Monday that the town of Boston had violated the First Modification when it refused to let a non-public group elevate a Christian flag in entrance of its Metropolis Corridor.
One of many three flagpoles in entrance of the constructing, which ordinarily flies the flag of Boston, is often made out there to teams searching for to have fun their backgrounds or to advertise causes like homosexual pleasure. In a 12-year interval, the town accepted 284 requests for the third flag.
It rejected just one, from Camp Structure, which says it seeks “to reinforce understanding of our Judeo-Christian ethical heritage.” The group’s software mentioned it sought to lift a “Christian flag” for one hour at an occasion that would come with “quick speeches by some native clergy specializing in Boston’s historical past.” The flag bore the Latin cross.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for six members of the court docket, mentioned the central query within the case, Shurtleff v. Metropolis of Boston, No. 20-1800, was whether or not the town had created a public discussion board by permitting personal teams to make use of its flagpole or was conveying its personal speech by selecting and endorsing the flags it accepted. When the federal government is talking for itself, it’s immune from First Modification scrutiny.
“When the federal government needs to state an opinion, to talk for the group, to formulate insurance policies or to implement packages, it naturally chooses what to say and what to not say,” Justice Breyer wrote. “That have to be true for presidency to work. Boston couldn’t simply congratulate the Crimson Sox on a victory had been the town powerless to say no to concurrently transmit the views of dissatisfied Yankees followers.”
After surveying the historical past of the flag
“We conclude that Boston’s flag-raising program doesn’t categorical authorities speech,” Justice Breyer wrote, including that the town’s refusal to let “Camp Structure fly their flag primarily based on its spiritual viewpoint violated the free speech clause of the First Modification.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined the bulk opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch agreed with the bulk’s backside line however not its rationale.