Flag Bylaw Text Edited In Alignment With First Amendment
DIGHTON — Town Administrator Michael Mullen and Town Clerk Mark Pacheco wish to share the decision of the state Attorney General’s Office regarding Dighton’s Flag Bylaw approved by residents at Dighton’s November 1, 2021, Special Town Meeting.
At the Town of Dighton’s Special Town Meeting last November, Article 5, a citizen’s petition to limit what is flown on town flagpoles, was passed as a town bylaw. The town-approved bylaw was written as follows:
“No person shall fly or display a Commemorative or Organizational Flag other than: a.) The United States flag; b.) The Massachusetts State flag; c.) The official Town of Dighton flag; d.) The official flags of all branches of the U.S. military and armed forces; and/or e.) The POW-MIA flag on a Town flagpole or any other such manner located at the Town Hall, or Town-owned land or Town-maintained facilities.”
As required by the state, the bylaw was then submitted to the Attorney General’s Office for it to be approved or denied dependent on whether the proposed amendments are consistent with the constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth.
In a decision shared with town officials on May 27, the Attorney General’s Office approved part of the town meeting-adopted bylaw, but disallowed and removed part of the text originally included in the bylaw, citing a conflict with the first amendment to the constitution and Article 16 of the Declaration of Rights of Massachusetts.
Specifically, the Attorney General’s office deleted the text “or any such manner” and, “or Town-owned land or Town maintained facilities” from the original town-approved bylaw, but approved underlying bylaw language relating to the flying of flags on a Town flagpole located at Town Hall.
“We thank the Attorney General’s Office for its diligence during the last few months as it reviewed the bylaw approved by the residents of Dighton at last November’s Special Town Meeting,” Town Administrator Mullen said. “This decision provides clarity in line with recent court cases and provides a clear path to begin implementing the bylaw.”
The Attorney General-approved bylaw now reads as follows:
“No person shall fly or display a Commemorative or Organizational Flag other than: a.) The United States flag; b.) The Massachusetts State flag; c.) The official Town of Dighton flag; d.) The official flags of all branches of the U.S. military and armed forces; and/or e.) The POW-MIA flag on a Town flagpole located at the Town Hall.”