Monday morning, the Supreme Court ruled the city of Boston acted illegally by not flying the flag of a Christian group because of its religion. The justices unanimously agreed that Boston should have let the flag fly, but not all were in agreement on why. Retiring Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion of the Court, and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh all wrote concurring opinions.
Boston had a longstanding policy of hoisting flags above city hall. Not just city, state, and US flags, but various flags provided by community members. These included, for instance, Pride Flag and others. Then in 2017, Harold Shurtleff, the director of a group called Camp Constitution, asked for permission to fly their flag, which he described as the Christian Flag. Boston refused, and Shurtleff sued.
Justice Breyer’s opinion instituted a three-part test for analysis of the issue, including history and public perception. The other Justices who wrote opinions rejected such an analysis and focused on criticizing the previous work of the court, which they claim has led to the error by city officials.