A year after the US Supreme Court ruled that the City of Boston’s refusal to fly a private religious organization’s flag on a city flagpole violated First Amendment rights, the debate about government speech, First Amendment rights, and who speaks for community values at large endures across Massachusetts.
In a Boston Globe article, litigation & enforcement attorney Deanna Barkett FitzGerald, who helped represent the City of Boston before the U.S. Supreme Court, said the decision gives cities and towns a “roadmap” to operate flag-raising programs within the bounds of the Constitution. Deanna, however, noted municipalities need to make clear the flags they’re raising represent the local government, and not serving as a public forum for others outside the government.
“If cities and towns want to speak for themselves on municipal flagpoles, and therefore be able to choose the messages the will or won’t endorse, they should make it very clear that they’re taking ownership of the message,” Deanna said.
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