Victory for the First Amendment and first responders won in a Pennsylvania court as a judge issued a ruling on a township’s ban of the “Thin Blue Line” flag.
While the Overton Window of victimhood routinely shifts the cultural landscape further toward the left, U.S. District Judge Karen Marston’s recent court opinion reminded us that God-given rights supersede a shifting political narrative. Specifically, she found that the Springfield Township Board could not override freedom of speech even over “racist” concerns.
The judge wrote in her official opinion, “The Township repeatedly suggests that the ‘Thin Blue Line’ American Flag is of limited if any, public value or concern because it is ‘offensive’ and ‘racist.’ But as this Court previously told the Township, ‘the First Amendment protects speech even when it is considered ‘offensive.'”
She even went so far as to lash out at the board from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, as their take on the flag “at times borders on unprofessional” and a detriment to the morale of the local police who she wrote had suffered a “significant toll from the repeated assertions that the police officers — and not merely the Flag — are racist.”
As had been reported in January, the board had voted 5-2 to ban the display of the well-known black and white American flag with the solitary blue stripe thus suppressing the speech of township employees individually and on township property.
Commissioner Ed Graham had said at the time, “When you wave this flag, it is just like, for African Americans, the waving of a Confederate flag,” an opinion that had also seen officers in Los Angeles, California and outside Minneapolis, Minnesota facing a crackdown on supporting their fellow police.
City of Golden Valley, Minnesota Police Chief Virgil Green had even apologized for bringing “unwarranted controversy between the police and the public” after he had posted a message on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day with the flag “intended to thank our police officers.”
Black police chief’s appreciation for thin blue line causes backlash, forced to apologizehttps://t.co/QvmSKHevLr
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) January 18, 2023
The Associated Press noted that the Springfield “tensions” stretched back to a 2021 vote to incorporate the flag into their logo and which the union had refused to change after requests. By Oct. 2022, a cease-and-desist letter had been issued to the union by the township’s manager and lawyer asserting it “unnecessarily exacerbates the ongoing conflict between police officers and the communities they serve.”
With the support of the statewide police union, the suit was brought by the officers against the township as it was argued the flag represented “the preservation of the rule of law, the protection of peace and freedom, the sacrifice of fallen law enforcement officers and the dedication of law enforcement office(r)s.”
Though siding with the rights of police, Marston also appeared to side with the opinion of leftists in her opinion when she opted against sanctions on the township and wrote, “Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the Flag carries racist undertones to certain members of the community. Indeed, the individual Plaintiffs admitted that they have been told the Flag carries racial undertones.”
In his own response to the ruling, attorney for the officer’s Wally Zimolong said, “It was a resounding win for the First Amendment and free speech. It showed once again that the government cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination based upon a message it disagrees with or finds offensive.”
That sentiment was shared as social media users voiced their support for freedom of speech, the “Thin Blue Line” flag in particular and the sacrifice of those it represents.
So happy with this update
— Victoria Anzaku (@victoria_anzaku) November 14, 2023
Imagine trying to ban a flag that represents the people keeping our communities safe smh
— Chris (@subsoular) November 14, 2023
The flag is a symbol of support for law enforcement, not a sign of defiance or white supremacy.
— Global Alert Desk (@globalalertdesk) November 14, 2023
Finally!!!! Take that libs!!! pic.twitter.com/3CbNnxsDxN
— Captain JT Kirk (@CaptainJTKirk4) November 14, 2023
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