Search results for "chick-fil-a"

“Civil Rights Agenda” Files Antidiscrimination Complaint Against Chick-fil-A Based on Chick-fil-A’s Speech

The complaint, filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, alleges that Chick-fil-A discriminated against gays in public accommodations. Now none of the allegations suggest that Chick-fil-A employees refused to serve gays, or treated gay customers differently from straight ones. Rather, the argument is that “the company’s widely published corporate philosophy, culture and policies make clear to [complainant] that as an unmarried homosexual in a ‘non-traditional’ family unit, I am inferior to married heterosexuals and therefore, unwelcome, objectionable and unacceptable to Chick-fil-A.”

The Civil Rights Agenda press release puts the matter well:

The complainants are a same-gender family with a daughter. Chick-fil-A used to be one of their favorite places to eat until Mr. Cathy’s latest statements were reported so widely. Now, they feel completely unwelcome in the establishment.

Despite the Agenda’s protestations (“The Civil Rights Agenda is quick to point out that this is not a First Amendment Issue”), the complaint is all about speech: Because the corporation’s officials are expressing views that disapprove of homosexuality, the theory goes, the government is supposed to hold the company liable — again, without any evidence that any particular person was denied service because of his homosexuality.

I have argued that such “hostile public accommodations environment” theories violate the First Amendment even when patrons claim that a business’s decor inside the business is offensive based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and so on. (See also Daniel Koontz, Hostile Public Accommodations Laws and the First Amendment, 3 NYU J. Law & Liberty 197 (2008). If a restaurant or a bookstore, for instance, wants to hang Confederate flags, Playboy centerfolds, pictures hostile to Catholicism, or insults of Republicans (in those cities which ban public accommodations discrimination based on political affiliation) or whatever else, it has a First Amendment right to [...]

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The ACLU of Illinois on Alderman’s (and, Seemingly, Mayor’s) Plan to Block Chick-Fil-A


“The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” said Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination.”

The ACLU “strongly supports” same-sex marriage, Schwartz said, but noted that if a government can exclude a business for being against same-sex marriage, it can also exclude a business for being in support of same-sex marriage.

“But we also support the First Amendment,” he said. “We don’ think the government should exclude Chick-fil-A because of the anti-LGBT message. We believe this is clear cut.”

Seems correct to me. [...]

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Boston Mayor Backs Down on Statement that “It Will Be Very Difficult” for Chick-Fil-A to Get Boston Business License

From the Boston Herald:

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino repeated today that he doesn’t want Chick-fil-A in Boston, but he backed away from a threat to actively block the fast-food chain from setting up shop in the city.

“I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there,” Menino said, referring to company president Dan Cathy, who drew the mayor’s wrath by going public with his views against same-sex marriage.

The mayor added: “I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.”

The Herald first reported last week that Menino warned “it will be very difficult” for Chick-fil-A to obtain licenses for a restaurant in Boston.

The mayor’s original comments are quoted here; I argued here that the government’s blocking the opening of Chick-fil-A stores because of their owners’ anti-same-sex-marriage political activity violates the First Amendment. Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer. [...]

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Speaking Engagements This Week

On Monday I’ll be speaking before the ACS chapter at Yale Law School on the topic, “What Has Lawrence Meant? Litigation and LGBT Rights on the Tenth Anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas.”  The presentation will be in Rm. 129 from 1-2 p.m.

On Tuesday I’ll be speaking at Minnesota State University-Mankato on “The Role of the First Amendment at a Public University,” a talk occasioned by a recent controversy at the school over the presence of a Chick-Fil-A on campus.  I’ll be giving the talk twice. once from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and a second time from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.  Both will be in Morris Hall, Rm. 101. [...]

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Corporate Speech and Corporate Purposes

Here’s one argument I’ve heard with regard to Citizens United, most recently on this thread but also from others: Once upon a time, corporations were seen as having to announce a specific set of purposes in their charters — e.g., to make money by selling cheese — and couldn’t go outside those purposes. If only that rule were reinstated, that would be a constitutional way of avoiding Citizens United, because corporate speech supporting or opposing candidates is outside those purposes.

But I don’t think that will work (even setting aside the substantial practical economic problems that it will cause, given that the flexibility to enter into new lines of business is often vital to corporations, especially when they face international competition). There are basically two variants of this proposal:

1. One variant of the proposal would be for states to issue corporate charters that expressly forbid corporations from speaking about political candidates (or ballot measures or what have you). But I think that would run into the same Citizens United problem. A state has no obligation to grant a corporate charter; but I don’t think it can limit the charter to exclude political advocacy any more than it can tell newspapers, “if you want to use the corporate form, you can’t editorialize for or against candidates,” tell churches, “if you want to organize yourselves as corporations, you can’t proselytize,” tell medical establishments, “if you want to organize yourselves as corporations, you can’t perform abortions,” or tell businesses, “if you want to organize yourselves as corporations, you can’t manufacture or sell guns.”

2. Another variant would be to require that corporations list particular purposes, and then only spend investor money on things that seriously advance those purposes — likely by replacing the “business judgment” rule, which leaves corporations lots [...]

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Chicago Alderman: I Will Deny Business Permit Because “There Are Consequences for [Its Owner’s] Statements and Beliefs,” and They Should Include Denial

Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno’s doubles down on a First Amendment violation:

Home Depot in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue wants to sell a piece of its land so that a Chick-fil-A restaurant can open in the 1st Ward, where I am alderman. It would be the fast-food chain’s first “stand-alone” Chicago restaurant. But to subdivide the land, the companies need my approval.

Initially, I had some traffic concerns with their plan. But then I heard the bigoted, homophobic comments by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who recently came out against same-sex marriage.

There are consequences for one’s actions, statements and beliefs. Because of this man’s ignorance, I will deny Chick-fil-A a permit to open a restaurant in my ward.

I’ve been in discussions with the company for the past nine months. Every time we met, I brought up my concerns that the company supported a homophobic agenda. My concerns were based on financial contributions made by WinShape Foundation, Chick-fil-A’s charitable endeavor, to anti-gay groups. I was repeatedly told by company officials that “we (Chick-fil-A) are not political” and that the company “had no political agenda.” Just recently, an attorney for the chain tried to convince me of Chick-fil-A’s benevolence. During each meeting, I challenged the company to change its ways. Although I thought we had made some progress, Cathy’s anti-gay comments made it abundantly clear what the company’s true stance is toward equal rights.

In an interview with the Biblical Recorder, he was asked about the company’s fervent support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” he said. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”


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No Building Permits for Opponent of Same-Sex Marriage

The Chicago Tribune reports:

[Chicago Alderman] Proco “Joe” Moreno announced this week that he will block Chick-fil-A’s effort to build its second Chicago store … following company President Dan Cathy’s remarks last week that he was “guilty as charged” for supporting the biblical definition of marriage as between a man and woman….

The alderman has the ideological support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” the mayor said in a statement when asked about Moreno’s decision. “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”

Moreno is relying on a rarely violated Chicago tradition known as aldermanic privilege, which dictates that City Council members defer to the opinion of the ward alderman on local issues. Last year Moreno wielded that weapon to block plans for a Wal-Mart in his ward, saying he had issues with the property owner and that Wal-Mart was not “a perfect fit for the area.” …

The alderman, serving his first full term, dismissed any First Amendment concerns.

“You have the right to say what you want to say, but zoning is not a right,” he said, adding that he also had concerns about traffic in the area….

In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino reportedly took a similar view [UPDATE: but has since recanted]:

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is vowing to block Chick-fil-A from bringing its Southern-fried fast-food empire to Boston … after the family-owned firm’s president suggested gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

But denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation. Even when it comes to government contracting — where the government is choosing how to spend government money — the government generally may not discriminate based on the [...]

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Discrimination Against Student Religious Speech

Schools, including K-12 schools, generally can’t discriminate against religious speech by students, outside the school curriculum (such as class assignments) or school-organized programs (such as graduations). If they allow extracurricular nonreligious clubs to form, they must let religious clubs form. If they allow nonreligious flyers to be distributed, they must allow religious flyers to be distributed. They may be able to limit a wide range of flyers (say, all flyers that aren’t directly related to school events), but they may not impose that limitation based on the religious content of the flyers. All this, I thought, had been well-settled by a long line of cases such as Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches School Dist., Rosenberger v. Rector, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, and many lower court cases.

But many schools — even schools in very religious parts of the country — still haven’t gotten the message. The latest example I saw was Wright v. Pulaski County Special School Dist. (E.D. Ark. Mar. 25, 2011, just posted on Westlaw in the last few days). An excerpt:

Wright filed this case on her own behalf and on behalf of her child, A.W., a third grade student at Sherwood Elementary School. In October 2009, Wright contacted A.W.’s teacher and requested permission to send home with students and post in the school’s literature rack, flyers for a church-sponsored swimming event. Wright was directed to contact Brazil, the Principal of Sherwood Elementary, to obtain permission. Brazil denied Wright’s request because the flyers were “church related.” This position was affirmed when Wright contacted Harnish, the Director of Elementary Education. Wright then contacted McGill, the Acting Superintendent of Pulaski County, who maintained that A.W. could not send students home with the flyers or post them in the literature rack…. Defendants cited

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Are Blue Laws “Necessary”?

In response to my post on the Massachusetts law requiring that supermarkets close on Thanksgiving, some commenters suggested such laws served a valuable purpose insofar as they insulate stores that wish to close on holidays from competition. Without such laws, these commenters suggest, it’s only a matter of time before all stores open on holidays so as not to lose business to their competitors. In a sense, there is a “race to the bottom” that forces all market participants to adopt a suboptimal policy. From this perspective, the law does not deny “choice” as much as it privileges one choice (closing on holidays) over another (opening on holidays). In either instance, some stores (and employees and consumers) will be deprived of their choice, so the question becomes which policy option is preferrable.

This is an interesting argument — and one that is theoretically plausible. But it is also possible (and I would suggest, more likely) that the competitive pressures are not all that great. Of course staying closed when one’s competitors are open entails costs, but this does not mean one cannot compete unless one matches a competitor hour-for-hour, day-for-day. Staying open for the convenience of consumers is one of many areas in which companies will compete with one another, and all such choices involve trade-offs. Stores will only open on holidays if they believe doing so will generate enough business (or goodwill) to offset the costs. In this regard, staying open on holidays is not materially different than staying open late at night or offering additional, labor-intensive customer service.

What of the empirical evidence? Are there successful business enterprises that resist the competitive pressure to open on holidays and Sundays? Yes. William T. Bogart points out that Chick-Fil-A restaurants close on Sundays because of the religious preferences of the [...]

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