By MARK PRATT Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — The city of Boston has agreed to pay more than $2.1 million to the Christian legal organization that backed a court challenge after the city refused to fly a Christian flag outside City Hall, a case that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The settlement announced Tuesday by Liberty Counsel covers attorneys’ fees and other costs associated with the legal battle that started in 2017 when city resident Hal Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution group asked to hoist the flag on one of three poles on City Hall Plaza to mark Constitution Day.
“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 founder and Chairman Mat Staver said in a statement.
Between 2005 and 2017, the city approved 284 consecutive applications from private organizations to fly flags, with no denials, before it rejected Shurtleff’s proposal, Liberty Counsel said.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in May that the city violated the free speech rights of Shurtleff because of his “religious viewpoint.”
The Christian flag — which is white, with a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner — finally flew for a couple hours outside City Hall on Aug. 3 as activists cheered and sang songs of praise.
The city’s Law Department determined $2.125 million to be reasonable based on billing statements provided by Liberty Counsel and through their own analysis, the statement said.