The city had refused to fly a flag with a cross on it over City Hall even though it had allowed other groups to fly their flags.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving the city of Boston’s refusal to allow a Christian group to fly its flag over City Hall.
The justices will review a January appeals court ruling that found that the city did not violate the Constitution in denying a group called Camp Constitution its request to fly a flag with a cross on it over a government building.
Camp Constitution runs a summer camp and features speakers on the U.S. Constitution with a view to promoting the “understanding of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage.”
In 2017 the group was denied its request to fly their flag over City Hall on the grounds that allowing the flag to fly would appear to be an endorsement of a particular religion, according to a report at Politico.com.
The request to fly the flag was for a one-hour period during an event held by Camp Constitution on September 17 in observance of Constitution Day.
The group contended that their First Amendment right to free speech had been violated, and that they had been unfairly discriminated against since other groups had been allowed to fly their flags.
According to the decision from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, over a 12-year period, the City of Boston had permitted other groups to fly their flags at City Hall on at least 284 occasions. Those flags included the Turkish flag (which depicts the Islamic star and crescent) and the Portuguese flag (which uses religious imagery). Other flags included a gay pride rainbow flag, a pink and blue transgender flag, and flags from foreign countries including Albania, Brazil, Ethiopia, Italy, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, China and Cuba.
Camp Constitution is being represented by Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom advocacy group.
Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The city’s blatant discrimination against Camp Constitution’s Christian viewpoint is unconstitutional censorship and an insult to the First Amendment. The city admitted in a court filing that its official policy is to make permit decisions based on whether the city approves the ‘message’ of the applicant.
“There is a crucial difference between government endorsement of religion and private speech, which government is bound to respect. Private religious speech in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted does not violate the Constitution. Censoring religious viewpoints does violate the First Amendment. Where the city of Boston allows numerous other flags from private organizations, it may not ban the Christian flag as part of a privately-sponsored event.”
Arguments are expected to be heard by the High Court early next year, with a ruling issued by early July, reported Politico.