A major Democrat-run U.S. city just cost its taxpayers $2 million over a Christian flag display.
Originally published at WND News Center. Used with permission.
The city of Boston is coughing up $2.1 million to pay for a lost fight over an attempt by city officials to censor the Christian flag.
Officials at Liberty Counsel confirm after five years of litigation, a fight ultimately decided by a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of its client, Hal Shurtleff, that the city has agreed to pay Liberty Counsel $2.125 million for attorney’s fees and costs.
The Supreme Court ruling said the city’s decision to censor the Christian flag, and only the Christian flag, was unconstitutional religious viewpoint discrimination.
The fight came about because the city had created a “public forum” at its flagpoles in front of city hall.
City officials had approved 284 flag raisings there by private organizations with no rejections.
Then, however, when Hal Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution requested the same permission to fly a Christian flag, in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, city officials censored it.
“The policy stated that the flagpole was open to all applicants, but the city of Boston denied Hal Shurtleff’s application for the sole reason that the application form referred to the flag as a ‘Christian’ flag. Had the application used any other non-religious word, Boston would have granted the request,” Liberty Counsel reported.
After the Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous decision, struck the city’s censorship, the Christian flag flew on the flagpole on August 3.
“We are pleased that after five years of litigation and a unanimous victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, we joined with Hal Shurtleff to finally let freedom fly in Boston, the Cradle of Liberty,” said Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver. “The Christian flag case has established significant precedent, including the overturning of the 1971 ‘Lemon Test,’ which Justice Scalia once described as a ‘ghoul in a late night horror movie.’ The case of Shurtleff v. City of Boston finally buried this ghoul that haunted the First Amendment for 51 years.”
WND reported the dispute was over the city’s decision to allow one of three flagpoles at city hall to be used by various groups over many years.
The first, and only, request ever rejected was for the Christian flag to fly.
The decision earned the city a public rebuke from the justices.
“We conclude that, on balance, Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups’ flags a form of government speech,” wrote now-retired Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s leftists, in the opinion. “That means, in turn, that Boston’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution raise their flag based on its religious viewpoint ‘abridged’ their ‘freedom of speech.’”
Even Elena Kagan, another of the court’s leftists, openly wondered, “Why is it that people have not been able to correct this mistake?”
Other flags allowed by city officials included the Pride flag and communist regimes such as China and Cuba.
Lower courts mistakenly had ruled that flying a Christian flag where dozens of other private interests had flown their flags with their own private messages would somehow make the Christian flag – and not the others – “government speech,” which would allow the city to censor it.
Boston’s antipathy toward the Christian flag is not the first time a lower government has been called out recently by the high court for an anti-religious agenda. Just a few years back, the court publicly scolded Colorado, a state run by a Democrat majority in its legislature and a leftist Democrat in the governor’s office, for its “hostility” to Christianity in its attempt to force a Christian baker to violate his faith and promote same-sex weddings.
In that case, involving Masterpiece Cakeshop and baker Jack Phillips, the state even had attempted to force him into a reindoctrination training program because he declined to promoted same-sex weddings with his artistry.