BOSTON, Mass.—After five years of legal battles, Camp Constitution has finally been allowed to raise its Christian flag in Boston’s City Hall plaza.
The flag-raising ceremony took place on Wednesday morning with around 200 people in attendance. Harold Shurtleff, co-founder of Camp Constitution, along with Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, raised the flag with a red cross amid music and cheers.
“It’s almost five years in the making, but we’re very excited about it today,” Shurtleff said.
In September 2017, the City of Boston, citing “separation of church and state”, denied Camp Constitution’s request to raise a “Christian flag” at City Hall Plaza. Shurtleff sued the city, but lost in U.S. District Court and then in the Court of Appeals.
However, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously on May 2 of this year that Boston’s decision to allow national flags and flags of historic events, causes and organizations to be flown in front of its hotel of town while refusing to hoist a Christian flag is an unconstitutional example of government censorship. .
“This case involves a flag pole outside of Boston City Hall. For years, Boston has permitted private groups to request the use of the pole to raise flags of their choice. As part of This program, Boston approved hundreds of requests to raise dozens of different flags. The city did not refuse a single request to raise a flag until in 2017, Harold Shurtleff, the director of a group called Camp Constitution, request to fly a Christian flag. Boston refused,” Judge Stephen Breyer said in the court notice.
Flags permitted to be flown in City Hall Square included the Pride Flag and the Flag of Communist China.
“Under our precedents, and given our government’s rhetoric here, this refusal was discriminatory on the basis of a religious perspective and violated the free speech clause,” Judge Breyer said.
Great victory for freedom of expression and religion
For attendees of the August 3 ceremony, like Sophia, the Supreme Court’s decision was a major victory for freedom of speech and religion.
“In America right now, everyone’s freedom, you can do anything except when you have the name of Jesus. So I think this is a huge win for us, to show that Christians will no longer be closed off and the love we have for everyone can be shown,” Sophia said.
Liberty Counsel attorneys represented Shurtleff in the litigation against the City of Boston. Shurtleff v. Boston was later cited by the Supreme Court as one of the reasons for overturning the “lemon test”, which effectively banned prayers in public schools.
“We have a great constitution, and we have a wonderful First Amendment, but just like when it comes to muscle, if you don’t use it, it weakens,” Shurtleff said.
He said it was his experience in the military that drove him to keep fighting in the face of challenges.
“I took note of my duties when I joined the army to uphold the Constitution. All of this stays with me until the day I die, so I had no choice,” he said. he declares.
Boston updates flag-raising policy
Meanwhile, the City of Boston is changing its flag-raising policy to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
According to the city’s announcement, Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston City Council members filed an order on Tuesday to update the city’s process for raising flags in City Hall Square. Under the new process, private groups requesting flag raising will need to obtain a resolution from city council or a proclamation from the mayor.
“I’m glad we have a clear way to resolve these legal issues and bring back the beloved traditions that we missed during these proceedings,” Wu said.
“The flags we raise at City Hall Plaza must reflect and celebrate our city’s values, and this ordinance establishes a formal process that will allow us to do so,” City Council Speaker Ed Flynn said.