Flag banning lawsuit update: The plaintiff’s initial complaint

by Doug

Wolfeboro flags

Downtown Wolfeboro June 4, 2008

With all the attention here in the Blogosphere regarding the flag-removal lawsuit filed by a Wolfeboro man against that town, I decided it was worth taking a ride to see if I could learn anything more. As was reported, indeed a Mr. Claude Roessiger has filed a lawsuit in Carroll County Superior Court against the town of Wolfeboro

"for violating his federal and state constitutional rights of freedom of speech and for violating its limited delegated power under New Hampshire Law."

How so? He claims that when the town approved the installation of some 100 or more American flags by a private citizen on lighted utility poles on April 2, 2003 as noted in the official minutes,

"to increase recognition of the current events and the efforts of our service men and women"

it violated his rights as noted above. How? Well, before diving into the legalese, let’s just consider the initial letter Mr. Roessiger sent to the Board of Selectmen on November 7, 2007:


Ladies, Gentlemen,

No one can doubt that the now year- around (sic) public display of American flags in Wolfeboro is markedly and significantly beyond any historical norm. This began as a reaction during the days and weeks after 9/11, when it was done in an understandable spirit of coming together and general patriotic sentiment, following perhaps in some less well defined way as a sign of support for our troops.

However, the long continuation of this excessive and unusual display now constitutes the expression oof a political opinion on public property and upon public space, and this cannot be supported. In fact, to the extent that it is excessive and unusual, it is tantamount to the display of political posters on public property, which surely every citizen would oppose, and rightly so.

In public affairs sentiment evolves. Where once all citizens could look upon all these flags as a benign expression of solidarity, that is no longer their meaning. It has been replaced by association with an in-your-face, with-me-or-against-me patriotism and the support which that entails for a set of policies, such that it now speaks principally a political point of view. As such all flags which were not ordinary and customary in our community– Town Hall, Schools, Police and Fire Departments, War Memorial– ought now be removed, without further delay, and all the more so in consideration of the fact that we are entrering an election year.

I am no less patriotic than my fellow citizen, but patriotism in America means a dedication to the nation and its constituition.  As for policies, patriotism means that we support the freedom to choose individually what seems right to each of us, that we be free to express ourselves, or to withhold expression, regarding our views. Our constitution assures our freedom of speech, which also is the freedom not to speak. I respect the sentiments which supported the unusual display of flags, but those who desired it must also respect that some of their fellow citizens patriotically disagree.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Claude Roessiger

According to court documents, Mr. Roessiger sent two more letters (we will get copies soon) to the town before receiving any response, which I will post in the morning some time.

I asked the Wolfeboro Town Manager today if they were going to defend against the lawsuit, and he replied without much hesitation, "Sure."

Good for them. Unfortunately, this will cost the taxpayers of Wolfeboro to do so. The Selectmen were meeting this evening and were going to discuss this legal matter in non-public session. If they have any statements on the matter, we’ll include them in the next update.

[See the first post here, with many reader comments]

[UPDATE: Lawsuit withdrawn!  Smile Click here.]



Leave a Comment

  • const

    Jim was indeed correct.
    Bravo Selma!
    The below article is head line news from the “Granite State News.”
    WOLFEBORO— Just before press time the Granite
    State News received a letter from Claude Roessiger via
    his attorneys, Orr & Reno of Concord. In the letter the Stoddard Road resident announced “I am withdrawing
    my action against The Town of Wolfeboro. The propriety
    of the Town’s actions is open for public discussion as it should be in a government of, by and for the people, and since the issue has already been correctly decided by other courts no purpose
    would be served by one more judgment. The political
    process will now have to be the judge.”

  • Jim

    The suit was withdrawn yesterday.

  • We will verify this ASAP, or, feel free to email us verification.

  • I just spoke with Carroll County Superior Court Clerk Patricia Lenz. “To my knowledge, it has not been withdrawn, unless something has come in by mail.” Therefore the story stands. Of course, given the fact Mr. Roessiger prefers mail to actually showing up publicly, perhaps it’s “in the mail” as they say.

  • Joyce

    Mr Roessiger has no idea what he has started. We now have thousands of Veterans, Gold Star Mothers, Blue Star mothers and citizens sending him e-mails and “snail mail”filled with our sentiments, flag icons, flags, etc-he will be seeing the American flag for quite some time. We have also chosen to boycott the products made by PAK 2000. As a veteran myself, from a family of combat veterans, spanning from WW1, the mother of a 3 time combat deployed soldier with 4 purple hearts, and the friend of several parents who have lost their children/spouse during war time, I must say, thank you for your opinion, Mr Roessiger, now you can have ours!! And, if he can look back through the years, many years, there used to be American flags everywhere and on every porch! The display of the flag is not a piece of something to be trashed because of how we may feel about our current President, or the war, it is a symbol of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and a tribute to ALL those who have fought to preserve those freedoms. You work for an international company, sir, move! We won’t miss you here.

  • Bob

    I suspect poor old Claude was once again out of his element. Once you take away his cigars and his yachts, he really is nothing more than an embarassed rich old white fool. I hope he keeps his mouth shut from here on in so as not to harm his employees anymore. What a tool!

  • Jane Aitken

    To me our flag represents our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Apparently this gentleman no longer believes in those two documents. While it is true that many in our government are desecrating and violating both, this does not mean we cannot aspire to returning the country to those values.
    That is what the flag represents to me and regardless of whether I approve of everything the government does, and I certainly don’t, I think to myself, what kind of person would want our flag removed?
    I suggest this gentleman get out and do what the rest of us are doing and work to restore this country to the principles that made it great in the first place, not file lawsuits that amount to frivolous posturing of his political point of view over the what he perceives to be an opposing view as represented by the flag.

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