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Shurtleff v. Boston

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
20-1800 1st Cir. TBD TBD TBD TBD OT 2021

Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit’s failure to apply the Supreme Court’s forum doctrine to the First Amendment challenge of a private religious organization that was denied access to briefly display its flag on a city flagpole, pursuant to a city policy expressly designating the flagpole a public forum open to all applicants, with hundreds of approvals and no denials, conflicts with the Supreme Court’s precedents holding that speech restrictions based on religious viewpoint or content violate the First Amendment or are otherwise subject to strict scrutiny and that the establishment clause is not a defense to censorship of private speech in a public forum open to all comers; (2) whether the 1st Circuit’s classifying as government speech the brief display of a private religious organization’s flag on a city flagpole, pursuant to a city policy expressly designating the flagpole a public forum open to all applicants, with hundreds of approvals and no denials, unconstitutionally expands the government speech doctrine, in direct conflict with the court’s decisions in Matal v. Tam, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. and Pleasant Grove City v. Summum; and (3) whether the 1st Circuit’s finding that the requirement for perfunctory city approval of a proposed brief display of a private religious organization’s flag on a city flagpole, pursuant to a city policy expressly designating the flagpole a public forum open to all applicants with hundreds of approvals and no denials, transforms the religious organization’s private speech into government speech, conflicts with the Supreme Court’s precedent in Matal v. Tam, and circuit court precedents in New Hope Family Services, Inc. v. Poole, Wandering Dago, Inc. v. Destito, Eagle Point Education Association v. Jackson County School District and Robb v. Hungerbeeler.

DateProceedings and Orders (key to color coding)
Jun 21 2021Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due July 26, 2021)
Jul 23 2021Brief of respondents City of Boston, et al. in opposition filed.
Jul 26 2021Brief amici curiae of Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, et al. filed.
Aug 11 2021DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 9/27/2021.
Sep 17 2021Reply of petitioners Harold Shurtleff, et al. filed. (Distributed)
Sep 30 2021Petition GRANTED.