Boston has agreed to pay $2.1 million in legal fees and other expenses after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the city for refusing to allow a Christian flag to fly outside City Hall.
The settlement included an agreement to pay Harold Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution non-profit for legal costs incurred during the dispute.
“We are pleased that after five years of litigation and a unanimous victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, we joined with Hal Shurtleff to finally let freedom fly in Boston, the Cradle of Liberty,” Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver, whose organization represented Shurtleff, said in a statement.
“The Christian flag case has established significant precedent, including the overturning of the 1971 ‘Lemon Test,’ which Justice [Antonin] Scalia once described as a ‘ghoul in a late night horror movie.’ The case of Shurtleff v. City of Boston finally buried this ghoul that haunted the First Amendment for 51 years,” he added.
The city’s policy stated that the flagpole was open to all organizations. Between 2005-2017, the city approved 284 flag raisings with no denials. However, in 2017, Shurtleff’s group was denied its request to fly the flag on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day because it was a Christian flag.
The case was lost in four lower court cases before the Supreme Court accepted it. Justices ruled 9-0 in May that the denial was unconstitutional under the First Amendment Speech Clause.
The Christian flag was finally flown briefly on the Boston City Hall flagpole on August 3.
“I do want to give the glory to God because God’s hand was in this from the very beginning,” Shurtleff said at the flag-raising ceremony.
“We have a great Constitution and a wonderful First Amendment, but just like when it comes to muscle, if you don’t use it, then you get weak. When I got the rejection email from the city and it said ‘separation of church and state,’ I knew we had a case,” he added.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the city of Boston is reportedly working on a policy that could soon give the local government more power in deciding which flags are approved at City Hall. The Boston Herald reported in August that the city expects to propose a change to its flag policies following the Supreme Court’s verdict.
CBS News Boston reported that the proposal would push for any group that wants to fly a flag on City Hall Plaza will “now need either a proclamation from the mayor or a resolution from the council.”