This Wednesday, August 3 at 11 a.m. ET, the Christian flag will finally be raised on the Boston City Hall Plaza public forum flagpole. The policy stated the flagpole was open to all applicants, but the City of Boston denied Hal Shurtleff’s application to briefly raise the flag during an event for Constitution Week hosted by Camp Constitution. The sole reason for the denial was that the application form referred to the flag as a “Christian” flag. Had the application used any word other than “Christian,” the City of Boston would have granted the application.
On May 2, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that Boston’s denial of the flag was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment Free Speech Clause.
In Shurtleff v. City of Boston, Liberty Counsel represents Boston resident Hal Shurtleff and his Christian civic organization, Camp Constitution. There are three flagpoles outside City Hall that fly the U.S., Massachusetts and Boston flags, plus a fourth flag on Congress Street, which runs parallel to City Hall. For 12 years from 2005-2017, Boston approved 284 flag-raisings by private organizations with no denials on the flagpoles that it designated as a “public forum.” However, the city official denied Camp Constitution’s application in 2017 to fly the Christian flag on Constitution Day. Boston approved 39 private flag-raising events, which averaged three per month. In 2018, Boston approved 50 private flag raising events, averaging nearly one per week. One included a flag of a private credit union.
In this historic unanimous decision, the High Court wrote that “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.’”
The historic ceremony on Wednesday will include the flag raising with Hal Shurtleff and Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. Other speakers include Rev. Steve Craft who is originally from the Sudan, Pastor William Levi (Operation Nehemiah Missions), Pastor Earl Wallace (Liberty Christian Fellowship), Historian Richard Howell and Jonathan Alexandre (Liberty Counsel). There also will be special music.
The event will also be livestreamed on Liberty Counsel’s Facebook page.
For more information on the case, visit www.LC.org/flag.