Shortly after al-Qaeda terrorists flew commercial jets to the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia, Major League Baseball teams began playing “God Bless America in the seventh inning of their matches.
Many of these games were played in stadiums owned by local governments.
Did it establish a religion?
In Boston, the city government concluded that allowing a private group—Camp Constitution—to temporarily raise its Christian flag on a flagpole owned by the city would suggest the city was establishing a religion—and, therefore, violate the First Amendment.
On the same mast, however, Boston itself hoisted the flag of the People’s Republic of China.
China, of course, is a communist and atheist regime.
Camp Constitution, on the other hand, as stated in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court, “is an all-volunteer association established in 2009, offering classes and workshops on subjects such as United States history, the Constitution of the States States and the news”.
“Camp Constitution’s mission,” he said in his memoir, “is to enhance understanding of the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage, of the American heritage of courage and ingenuity, of the genius of the United States Constitution and free enterprise”.
The case that Camp Constitution and its founder, Harold Shurtleff, brought against Boston for denying that organization the ability to fly its flag on the same flagpole where the flag of the People’s Republic of China had flown went as far as the Supreme Court. Last month, the court correctly ruled in favor of Camp Constitution and against Boston.
In front of Boston City Hall, there are three flagpoles. One, the group’s brief explains, features the American flag and the flag of the National League of Prisoner of War Families/MIA; another flies the flag of Massachusetts; and the third usually flies the Boston municipal flag.
This third flagpole, however, is also sometimes used by the city to fly other flags or is loaned by the city to non-governmental organizations to fly other flags.
In 2017, Camp Constitution planned to hold an event in the plaza outside City Hall and requested permission to hoist what it called its “Christian flag” on the third mast.
“In the twelve years prior to Camp Constitution’s application, from June 2005 to June 2017, the city approved 284 flag-raising events, with no record of denials,” he said in his brief. “In the one-year period immediately preceding Camp Constitution’s application, the city approved 39 flag raisings, averaging more than three per month.”
In addition to raising the People’s Republic of China flag in front of its City Hall, the City of Boston admitted in its own court brief that it also raised “the LGBT Pride Rainbow Flag.” and the “pink flag for transgender rights”.
But he refused Camp Constitution’s modest Christian flag, which the Supreme Court described as “a red cross on a blue field on a white background.”
“The city had never refused a request to raise a flag before the petitioners’ request,” Boston said in its brief.
“The city considered the petitioners’ request to be the first it had received regarding a religious flag,” she said.
Gregory Rooney, the commissioner of the City of Boston’s Department of Property Management, responded to Camp Constitution on behalf of the city. “Rooney responded that it is city policy to respectfully refrain from flying non-secular flags on flagpoles in accordance with the First Amendment’s prohibition against establishing religion by the government and in accordance with the authority of the city to decide how it uses limited government resources,” the city said in its brief.
Boston then argued that when it allowed third-party flags to be flown on its third mast, it was “engaging in government speech” and would not “engage in speech it did not approve of”.
“The plaintiffs’ claim that the city violated their right to free speech when the city refused a request to fly a Christian flag in front of City Hall must fail,” Boston told the court. “When the city raises a third-party flag on the flagpoles of City Hall, which are prominently displayed in front of City Hall and over which the City retains ownership and control, it is engaging in a speech government in line with recent court rulings.”
“When engaging in government discourse, the city has the same freedom to speak as individuals and cannot be coerced into engaging in discourse it does not approve of,” said the Boston file.
“The city flagpole is not a public forum, it is government property for the city to use in any way that best suits its purposes,” Boston explained. “The petitioners therefore have no constitutional right to express their message on the town pole or to force the town to speak in any particular way.”
“The government has the same freedom to express itself as it wishes, even when it receives assistance from a third party for the purpose of conveying a government message,” the city’s brief reads.
Presumably, then, when the flag of the People’s Republic of China and the “transgender rights flag” flew from the flagpole owned by the City of Boston, the City of Boston was speaking out.
These flags, unlike the Christian flag that Camp Constitution wanted to fly, apparently didn’t make the city of Boston feel like it was “forced to engage in a discourse it doesn’t approve of.”
While filing four different opinions, the Supreme Court nonetheless went 9-0 against the city of Boston – with retired Justice Stephen Breyer writing the court’s leading opinion.
“(T)he city’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution fly their flag because of their religious views violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment,” Breyer concluded.
Then we’ll see if that same court rejects the absurd argument that a high school assistant football coach established a religion when he usually said a postgame prayer on a school football field. public.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor of CNSnews.com. To learn more about him, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: taken on Pixabay