Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chick-Fil-A and the First Amendment

In the recent past the CEO of Chick-Fil-A Restaurants, Dan Cathy, said he and his company oppose gay marriage. This spurred many angry reactions and most importantly it caused some public officials, specifically those in Boston and Chicago, to say that they would not give permits to Chick-Fil-A and that they didn’t want them opening in their city. The question that was raised was whether this was a violation of Cathy’s First Amendment rights. Was the CEO able to declare a viewpoint without punishment from the government? This is a First Amendment issue not because the government was suppressing what Dan Cathy had to say but because they were using his right to free speech to punish his business.
            Right after Dan Cathy made his view publicly known, Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino said he would block any sort of Chick-Fil-A from opening in Boston. Then Chicago followed quickly after. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the views of Chick-Fil-A and its CEO were not the views of Chicago and that because of this he would not allow any more Chick-Fil-A establishments to open in Chicago. This would be an illegal censorship because it is the government vs. the business. If the public, not the government, decides to boycott Chick-Fil-A because of its views, that would be an entirely different legal matter.
            While there have been no cases brought to court, it is clear that should Chick-Fil-A litigate government denial of a business license it would find that the First Amendment would favor them in this instance. In Boston, Mayor Menino has stepped back and realized that he could not move forward with his plans to block Chick-Fil-A from opening because of the First Amendment. The Boston mayor is free to express his unhappiness and an attitude of unwelcomness towards Chick-Fil-A and its CEO but he cannot use the government’s power to stop the opening of more restaurants.

Chapman, Steve. "Chick-fil-A and Free Speech." Chicago Tribune. N.p., 25 July 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. <>.
"Free Speech and Chick-fil-A." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 24 July 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. <>.
Randazza, Marc J. "Chick-fil-A and Free Speech." CNN. Cable News Network, 31 July 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. <>.
Turner, Greg. "Mayor Menino on Chick-fil-A: Stuff It." Boston Herald. N.p., 20 July 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. <>.
Zimmerman, Neetzan. "Chicago Joins Boston in Blocking Chick-fil-A Branch Opening." Gawker. N.p., 25 July 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. < fil a-branch-opening>.

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