Christian flag raised outside Boston City Hall ending 5-year battle
BOSTON - The flag at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court fight was finally raised at Boston City Hall Wednesday, ending a long legal battle.
The Camp Constitution flag went up around 11 a.m., five years after the request was first made.
There are three flagpoles outside City Hall that fly the U.S., Massachusetts and Boston flags. Occasionally, the city takes down its own flag and temporarily raises another one.
In 2017, Harold Shurtleff, a conservative activist, wanted to fly a white banner with a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner, called the Christian flag.
Although Boston had approved 284 straight applications - most involving the flags of other nations - a city official turned away Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution because he said he wanted to fly the Christian flag.
The city said no, citing separation of church and state. The organization sued and it ultimately ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously against the city last May.
Justice Stephen Breyer said that Boston "violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment."
"We're very excited about it. I think what's more important is the precedent we set," Shurtleff told WBZ-TV Wednesday at the flag raising ceremony. "This was never our intention, I just wanted to hold a ceremony to commemorate the U.S. Constitution, Constitution Day September 17th or close to that and also about Boston's rich Christian history."
"I think the city officials, they just had a misunderstanding of what the First Amendment meant and it's just too bad it had to go this far, as far as they're concerned, but we're very pleased," he added.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court allowed the city to change the policy. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and city councilors have now filed an ordinance to update it. Any group that wants to fly their flag on City Hall Plaza will now need either a proclamation from the mayor or a resolution from the council.
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