Events Surrounding Shurtleff v. City of Boston SCOTUS Oral Argument

Jan 13, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several events will occur next week in front of the U.S. Supreme Court surrounding the oral argument of Shurtleff v. City of Boston on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. 

Liberty Counsel represents Boston resident Hal Shurtleff and his Christian civic organization, Camp Constitution, arguing that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment by censoring a private flag in a public forum open to “all applicants” merely because the application referred to it as a “Christian flag.” 

On Monday, January 17 at 7 p.m. ET, there will be a prayer vigil and a time of worship in front of the High Court led by Faith & Liberty Vice President Peggy Nienaber. The prayer vigil will be livestreamed on Liberty Counsel’s Facebook page. 

On Tuesday, January 18, there will be a rally at 9 a.m. in front of the Supreme Court with speakers such as Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Tim Goeglein (Focus on the Family), Dean Nelson (Frederick Douglass Foundation), Kalisia Richer (Turning Point USA), Rev. Patrick Mahoney (Christian Defense Coalition), Mario Diaz (Concerned Women for America), Jeremy Dys (First Liberty), Larry Cirignano (Choose Life), Hal Shurtleff (Camp Constitution) and Liberty Counsel attorneys Harry Mihet, Roger Gannam and Jonathan Alexandre. The rally will be livestreamed on Liberty Counsel’s Facebook page. 

Oral argument in Shurtleff v. City of Boston begins at 10 a.m. on Tuesday followed by a press conference outside of the Supreme Court. 

After 12 years with 284 approvals, no denials and virtually no review, one word — “Christian” — caught the attention of a Boston official on the application. The flag itself was not the problem. Had it been called anything but Christian, the same flag would have flown for an hour without incident. 

Oral argument in Shurtleff v. City of Boston will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 18, followed by a press conference outside of the Supreme Court. The live oral argument can be heard at www.LC.org/flag.

This case will affect everyone. If Boston can open a public forum for all applicants but then close the forum to disfavored viewpoints, then every government will be able to censor viewpoints under the guise that every private speaker in the forum was engaging in government speech. 

Boston censored the religious viewpoint of Camp Constitution’s flag, which was to be raised for about an hour the week of September 17 in observance of Constitution Day, while supporters gathered around the flagpole. The flag was part of the ceremony to honor the Constitution and recognize the Judeo-Christian heritage and Christian Founders, like John Adams and Samuel Adams, both who were residents of Massachusetts. 

Boston had never censored any flag until Camp Constitution’s flag, which is white with a blue square and a red cross in the upper left corner. The flag contains no writing. Under oath, the city official testified the flag would have been approved if the application did not refer to it as a “Christian flag.” The word “Christian” on the application alone triggered the censorship. The official said he had never heard of a “Christian flag” until Camp Constitution’s application. Therefore, his testimony revealed that if Camp Constitution had not referred to the flag on the application with the word “Christian,” it would not have been censored. 

For more information on the case, visit www.LC.org/flag. 

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