SCOTUS Rules 9-0 In Our Case

May 5, 2022

In a stunning 9-0 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a message that can be heard throughout the country loud and clear—GOVERNMENTS MUST STOP CENSORING RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINTS. The unanimous opinion shocked the most ardent proponents of religious censorship. This decision came down in our case, Shurtleff v. City of Boston, involving Camp Constitution and the Christian flag. — Mat

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In 2017, Hal Shurtleff and his Christian civic organization, Camp Constitution, filed a permit application with the City of Boston to celebrate Constitution Day in September. As part of a one-hour event, Hal planned on raising the Christian flag on the City Hall public forum flagpole.

Boston had a longstanding practice and policy to open a flagpole for private speakers to temporarily raise a flag during their events. In its own words, Boston created a “public forum” open to “all applicants.” But after 12 years, 284 applications, no denials and virtually no review, Boston censored Camp Constitution’s application because of one word—“Christian.”

A Boston official said the flag was not the problem. The same flag could have flown if the application did not refer to it as “Christian.” The word “Christian” on the application was the issue. If the application used any secular word to describe the flag, Boston would have granted the application. Boston was clearly hostile to Christian viewpoints.

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Liberty Counsel’s position from its beginning has been that the government CANNOT censor religious viewpoints. ALL nine members of the Supreme Court agreed! It is very rare to get a 9-0 decision from the High Court. The radical opponents of religious speech and viewpoints cannot pigeonhole this decision as just being another opinion of “conservative” Justices. The unanimous decision magnifies the significance of this case.

The Supreme Court ruled that 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.” The High Court stated that because the government admitted it censored the flag because it was referred to as “Christian” on the application, the censorship was viewpoint discrimination, and there is no establishment clause defense.

This case is so much more significant than a flag. Boston openly discriminated against viewpoints it disfavored when it opened the flagpoles to all applicants and then excluded Christian viewpoints. Government cannot censor religious viewpoints under the guise of government speech.

STOP Government Censorship!

The High Court held 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 Court wrote, “Here, Boston concedes that it denied Shurtleff’s request solely because the Christian flag he asked to raise ‘promot[ed] a specific religion.’ … Under our precedents, and in view of our government-speech holding here, that refusal discriminated based on religious viewpoint and violated the Free Speech Clause” (emphasis added).

But there’s even more here than meets the eye, with ramifications that could end the humanistic assaults on Christian viewpoints.

Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch all took the opportunity to blast the so-called “Lemon Test” from the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman case. The Lemon test is a decision by an activist Court that has been used to censor religious symbols and speech. “It’s time to let Lemon lie in its grave.”

Justice Gorsuch noted that the City of Boston was likely trying to follow the “Lemon Test,” however, that test is wholly unworkable because it did not take into consideration the original meaning of the First Amendment establishment clause. “In time, this Court came to recognize these problems, abandoned Lemon, and returned to a more humble jurisprudence centered on the Constitution’s original meaning. Yet in this case, the city chose to follow Lemon anyway. It proved a costly decision, and Boston’s travails supply a cautionary tale for other localities and lower courts. The only sure thing Lemon yielded was new business for lawyers and judges.”

Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “A government violates the Constitution when (as here) it excludes religious persons, organizations, or speech because of religion from public programs, benefits, facilities, and the like.”

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Justice Alito, with Justice Thomas concurring, wrote of concern over governments “regulating private expression” and attempting to use the establishment clause as a ruse to surreptitiously “control the message” and engage in censorship.

In light of Joe Biden’s new “Ministry of Truth,” aka the “Disinformation Governance Board,” whose purpose is to censor U.S. citizens, this case sends a strong message.

We have numerous cases pending. And we continue to represent the brave men and women of our military against Biden’s twisted plot to run Christians out of the military.

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“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 31:24).

Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

P.S. Want to do more? Fax state and federal legislators to demand they STOP THE SHOT MANDATES! And sign the petition.



Sources:

Morgan, Ryan. “Communist China’s Flag Raised above Boston City Hall Plaza, Philly; Supported by Elected Officials.” American Military News, October 8, 2019. americanmilitarynews.com/2019/10/communist-chinas-flag-raised-above-boston-city-hall-plaza-philly-supported-by-elected-officials/.

“SCOTUS Rules 9-0 in Favor of Christian Flag Case.” Liberty Counsel, May 2, 2022. lc.org/newsroom/details/050222-scotus-rules-90-in-favor-of-christian-flag-case.

“USA and 12 States Support LC in Free Speech Case.” Liberty Counsel, November 24, 2021. lc.org/newsroom/details/112421-usa-and-11-states-support-lc-in-free-speech-case.

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