U.S. Supreme Court docket backs Christian group in Boston flag flap By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A common view of the U.S. Supreme Court docket constructing in Washington, U.S., November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Will Dunham

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) -Boston violated the free speech rights of a Christian group by refusing to fly a flag bearing the picture of a cross at Metropolis Corridor as a part of a program that permit personal teams use the flagpole whereas holding occasions within the plaza beneath, the U.S. Supreme Court docket unanimously dominated on Monday.

The 9-Zero resolution overturned a decrease courtroom’s ruling that the rejection of Camp Structure and its director Harold Shurtleff didn’t violate their rights to freedom to speech underneath the U.S. Structure’s First Modification. President Joe Biden’s administration backed Camp Structure within the case.

Boston’s flag-raising program was geared toward selling variety and tolerance among the many metropolis’s completely different communities. In turning down Camp Structure, Boston had stated that elevating the cross flag may seem to violate one other a part of the First Modification that bars governmental endorsement of a selected faith.

Because of the litigation, Boston final October halted this system to make sure that town can’t be compelled to “publicize messages antithetical to its personal.” Boston has stated that requiring it to open the flagpole to “all comers” may drive it to lift flags selling division or intolerance, similar to a swastika or a terrorist group.

The Supreme Court docket, which has a 6-Three conservative majority, has taken an expansive view of spiritual rights and has been more and more receptive to arguments that governments are appearing with hostility towards faith.

Biden’s administration argued in courtroom papers that as a result of Boston handled the flagpole as a discussion board that personal audio system may entry, it had unlawfully discriminated towards the Christian group primarily based on viewpoint.

The dispute arose over Boston’s apply of permitting personal teams to carry flag-raising occasions utilizing one in all three flagpoles on the plaza in entrance of Metropolis Corridor. From 2005 to 2017, Boston accepted all 284 functions it acquired earlier than rebuffing Camp Structure. The overwhelming majority of flags have been these of overseas nations, but additionally included one commemorating LGBT Delight in Boston.

At concern was whether or not the flagpole grew to become a public discussion board meriting free speech protections underneath the First Modification to bar discrimination primarily based on viewpoint, because the plaintiffs claimed, or whether or not it represented merely a conduit for presidency speech not warranting such safety, as Boston claimed.

Camp Structure, whose acknowledged mission is “to reinforce understanding of our Judeo-Christian ethical heritage” in addition to “free enterprise,” sued in 2018 over its rejection. It was represented within the case by Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian authorized group.

Amongst different subjects, Camp Structure’s web site posts supplies questioning the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that final yr’s U.S. Capitol assault was truly a canopy up for “huge” 2020 election fraud and calling Japan’s 1941 Pearl Harbor assault and al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on america “rigorously orchestrated false flags.”

The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals dominated that town’s management of the flag-raising program made it authorities speech.

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