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To that end, Boston has flown all kinds of flags from the third mast over the years. As the plaintiffs told the court in their petition, the city “approved the raising of the flags of private groups for the celebrations of the countries of Albania, Brazil, Ethiopia, Italy, Panama, Peru , Portugal, Puerto Rico, Mexico, as well as China, Cuba and Turkey, as well as for the flags of the Private Chinese Progressive Association, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, the Bunker Hill Association and the Boston Pride Ironically, they noted, Massachusetts law would have prohibited officials from displaying the “flag or emblem” of a foreign power outside most government buildings.

The plaintiff in the case, Harold Shurtleff, contacted the city in 2017 about hosting an event in the public spaces of Boston City Hall on Constitution Day that year. Its organization, Camp Constitution, says its mission is “to enhance understanding of the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, the American legacy of courage and ingenuity, the genius of the United States Constitution, and free enterprise ”. In addition to welcoming some speakers to the square, Shurtleff asked the city to fly a Christian flag, which consists of a white background with a red cross inside a blue township at the top left, as part of the event.