Early next year, the high court will hear oral arguments in what a Christian group known as Camp Constitution describes as government censorship and a violation of the First Amendment.
"Boston has an expressed policy by which it invites all of its community groups and private individuals to come and display their flags on one of the flag poles outside of its city hall," explains attorney Harry Mihet of Liberty Counsel, the law firm representing Camp Constitution in this case.
"For a number of years, Boston received 284 requests and granted 284 requests," the attorney continues. "But when … Camp Constitution [in July 2017] asked Boston to allow the display of the Christian flag for all of one hour on one day to celebrate the contributions that Christians have brought to the founding of this great nation, Boston said no."
City officials attempted to justify their decision with what Mihet calls "the tired and oft-repeated mantra of separation of church and state."
"The Constitution and the law are very clear that Boston doesn't have to allow any private individual or organization to display any flag on its city hall flag pole," Mihet shares. "However, if Boston chooses to allow some groups to display their flags – and even goes so far as to invite them to come and display their flags – then Boston cannot exclude religious groups merely on the grounds that they are religious."
That, says the Liberty Counsel attorney, isn't neutrality towards religion as the Constitution requires. "That is outright hostility towards religion, which the Constitution prohibits," he states.
So far, a trial court and even the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected the legal challenge and found that there was nothing wrong.
Mihet predicts that once the Supreme Court receives the briefs in the case and hears oral arguments, the high court "will establish a nationwide precedent that the First Amendment and the constitutional protections apply to all people in this nation, including Christians."