Recap of Oral Argument to the Supreme Court in Religious Viewpoint Case



Supreme Court Heard Religious Viewpoint Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver presented oral argument on January 18 to the U.S. Supreme Court in Shurtleff v. City of Boston, arguing that the City of Boston violated the Constitution by censoring a private flag in a public forum open to “all applicants” merely because the application referred to it as a “Christian flag.”

Liberty Counsel represents Boston resident Hal Shurtleff and his Christian civic organization, Camp Constitution. Shurtleff and Camp Constitution first asked the city in 2017 for a permit to raise the Christian flag on Boston City Hall flagpoles to commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (September 17) and the civic and cultural contributions of the Christian community to the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, religious tolerance, the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution.

There are three flagpoles outside City Hall that fly the U.S., Massachusetts and Boston flags, plus a fourth flag on Congress Street, which runs parallel to City Hall. For 12 years from 2005-2017, Boston approved 284 flag-raisings by private organizations with no denials on the flagpoles that it designated as a “public forum.” Had the flag been referred to as anything but Christian, the city would have approved it. The flag itself was not the problem; it was the word “Christian” describing it in the application that was the issue. The year before Camp Constitution’s application (2016-2017), Boston approved 39 private flag-raising events, which averaged three per month. In 2018, Boston approved 50 private flag raising events, averaging nearly one per week. One included a flag of a private credit union.

Boston now argues that despite the policy and longstanding practice, the private flag raisings are actually government speech.

Today, the Supreme Court seemed united in favor of Liberty Counsel’s argument that this censorship is unconstitutional and that Boston was wrong to deny the Christian flag, a white banner with a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner.

During today’s argument, Boston’s attorney, Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, admitted that if the High Court finds that if the city created a public forum, then Boston has no defense.

When the city’s attorney attempted to justify the policy to fit their agenda, Justice Alito said, “You did some after-the-fact gerrymandering of your policy and reverse engineered it.”

Hallward-Driemeier also stated that the city’s “goal is to foster diversity of communities” and “commemorate events or occasions.”

In response, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that if Christians are not a part of that diversity the city purports to support, “that’s limited diversity.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett also asked the city attorney, “Isn’t celebrating Constitution Day considered an event?”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also acknowledged that it seems the Establishment Clause is not the issue in this case since there has not been equal treatment of religious groups or religious speech.

Justice Neil Gorsuch also noted that the city cast religion into the same category as speech deemed offensive by censoring the religious viewpoint.

Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Today is a historic day and I was honored to present this religious viewpoint case before the U.S. Supreme Court. This case is so much more significant than a flag. Boston cheated when it opened the flagpoles to all applicants and then excluded Christian viewpoints. The city then claimed that the flagpoles never were a public forum despite its history and express policy. The city’s censorship is clearly unconstitutional, and government cannot censor religious viewpoints.”


  • SEPT 2017 Liberty Counsel sends Boston demand letter following flag application denial.
  • JULY 2018 Original suit filed in district court.
  • AUG 2018 Court denies preliminary injunction.
  • JUNE 2019 First Circuit affirms the denial.
  • JULY 2019 LC files motion for summary judgment in district court.
  • FEB 2020 District court denies LC summary judgment and grants city's summary judgment.
  • JAN 2021 First Circuit affirms summary judgment for city.
  • JUNE 2021 LC files writ of certiorari at SCOTUS.
  • SEPT 2021 SCOTUS takes the case.
  • JAN 18, 2022 Oral argument set at SCOTUS.


Reply Brief For The Petitioners

Petition for Certiorari

Opposition to Petition for Certiorari

Reply Brief in Support of Petition for Certiorari

Brief for Petitioners Camp Constitution

Brief for Respondent City of Boston

Reply Brief of Petitioners Camp Constitution


In Support of Liberty Counsel

Brief-Amicus-(ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts).pdf

Brief-Amicus-(Advancing-American-Freedom-et al).pdf



Brief-Amicus-(Becket Fund for Religious Liberty).pdf



Brief-Amicus-(CPCF, et al.).pdf



Brief-Amicus-(National Legal Foundation, et al.).pdf

Brief-Amicus-(Notre Dame L. Sch. Rel. Lib. Initiative).pdf

Brief-Amicus-(Pacific Legal Foundation).pdf




Brief-Amicus-(United States).pdf

In Support of City of Boston

Brief-Amicus-(Anti-Defamation League).pdf


Brief-Amicus-(Jewish Alliance for Law, et al).pdf

Brief-Amicus-(Local Governments).pdf

Brief-Amicus-(Multi States).pdf

Brief-Amicus-(National Council of Churches, et al.).pdf


Supreme Court Heard Religious Viewpoint Case Today

Religious Viewpoint Case Goes to SCOTUS Tomorrow

Events Surrounding Shurtleff v. City of Boston SCOTUS Oral Argument

Religious Viewpoint Case Will Affect Everyone

LC Files Reply Brief at SCOTUS in Religious Viewpoint Case

Religious Viewpoint Case at SCOTUS Will Set National Precedent

USA and 12 States Support LC in Free Speech Case

Boston’s Christian Flag Debate Heading to US Supreme Court

Liberty Counsel Files Opening Brief at SCOTUS in Religious Viewpoint Case

U.S. Supreme Court Takes Christian Flag Case

Next Step for Christian Flag: U.S. Supreme Court

Christian Flag in Boston Before Court of Appeals

Boston Censorship Continues

Christian Flag Goes Back to Court

Boston Should Fly Christian Flag

Boston Discriminates Against Christian Flag

Stop Censorship of Christian Flag

Boston Sued for Censoring Christian Flag

Group sues Boston for banning Christian flag, approving 284 others

Boston Sued For Booting Christian Flag, While Allowing Islamic Symbols

Boston Sued for Banning Christian Flag, Allowing 284 Others

284 flags including China's OK in Boston, but not Christian banner

Boston Sued for Banning Christian Flag, Allowing 284 Others

Banned in Boston — the Christian Flag

Stop Censorship of Christian Flag

Fly the 'Christian' flag? Sorry, no can do

Group Denied Request to Fly Christian Flag During Event Recognizing Boston’s Christian Heritage Refiles Suit

The Point: Boston Bars the Christian Flag

Standing Up for Judeo-Christian Values - Hal Shurtleff - Episode 29

As Liberty Counsel prepares to defend a religious viewpoint censorship case before the U.S. Supreme Court, it all started with the Christian flag. Hal Shurtleff of Camp Constitution joins Mat Staver to explain more on this episode of Freedom Alive.™  - Originally premiered Dec 12, 2021 on GoodLife45 - visit