Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday he plans to investigate whether the San Antonio City Council violated the First Amendment when it banned Chick-fil-A from participating as a vendor at the city’s airport because of the restaurant’s support for Christian values:
The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance. It’s discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law. pic.twitter.com/iOk7G9Eltv
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) March 28, 2019
“The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance,” tweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Thursday. “It’s discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law.”
Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted the Chick-fil-A ban “has the stench of religious discrimination”:
Texas Attorney General will investigate San Antonio’s ban on Chick-fil-A at their airport. The ban has the stench of religious discrimination against Chick-fil-A. @KenPaxtonTX #txlege https://t.co/W8AKypXozB
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 28, 2019
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also tweeted about the ban, “The Texas attorney general says it’s ‘discriminatory’”:
Chick-fil-A was banned from San Antonio’s airport. The Texas attorney general says it’s ‘discriminatory.’ https://t.co/X7b0gQmDTg
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 29, 2019
Roberto Treviño, San Antonio District 1 City Councilman, moved last week to ban the privately held, family-owned business from its list of airport vendors. Six council members approved the motion to ban Chick-fil-A, while four voted against it.
“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion,” Treviño said, according to NBC News 4. “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
However, Texas Rep. Chip Roy tweeted a letter he sent to the San Antonio City Council in which he reacted to Treviño’s comment:
Targeting individuals, organizations, or corporations for carrying out their deeply held religious beliefs in accord with our laws and consistent with many Americans’ similarly held religious beliefs is hardly making San Antonio a champion of ‘equality and inclusion.’”
I wrote the council a letter this week outlining my concerns. Targeting individuals, organizations, or corporations for carrying out there deeply-held religious beliefs in accord with our laws and consistent with many Americans' similarly held religious beliefs is not "inclusion" pic.twitter.com/xVoB2W5TjG
— Rep. Chip Roy (@RepChipRoy) March 29, 2019
“The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken,” Paxton wrote in a letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the rest of the council, reported Chron.com. “Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”
Paxton also on Thursday asked Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to look into whether the city broke any federal law or regulation as a recipient of federal grant funds.
In a letter to Chao, Paxton said the city’s action could violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. He added that it also could violate federal statutes and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of creed.
“Ironically, the city’s efforts to be ‘inclusive’ resulted in the exclusion of Chick-fil-A based on its religious beliefs,” Paxton wrote to Chao.
The news report noted as well that Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who is running for mayor against Nirenberg, responded to Paxton’s announcement about his investigation by calling on the City Council to reconsider its decision.
“This investigation is the result of the City Council’s horrible decision to punish Chick-fil-A for their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of religion,” Brockhouse said. “The City Council must immediately reconvene on this item … to consider revoking this vote moving forward with Chick-fil-A as part of the contract.”
Breitbart News reported on Treviño’s motion to ban Chick-fil-A:
Chick-fil-A was initially set to be one of the airport’s restaurant offerings, but the councilman’s motion came on the heels of a report by extremist organization Think Progress that highlighted the $1.8 million in donations to Christian groups that Chick-fil-A reported to its shareholders.
“Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport,” Treviño added. “I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement.”
Chick-fil-A states on its website that the company continues to uphold the biblical principles that guided the founding of its business by S. Truett Cathy. The company has given financial support to Christian youth organizations and charitable groups, such as the Salvation Army.
While some have questioned the motives behind our donations, we want to take a moment to reiterate the mission and focus of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, which has always been and always will be to donate to programs that support a diverse array of youth and educational programs nationwide. The 140,000 people who serve customers on a daily basis represent and embrace all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the restaurant’s website, in 2018, Chick-fil-A was presented with a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award for being among the top 100 best places to work. Additionally, Chick-fil-A was included in Glassdoor’s Top 100 CEOs.
Also, in 2018, Chick-fil-A was recognized for customer experience in the Temkin Experience Ratings survey, and was named “Best Franchise Brand” by Airport Revenue News.
Chick-fil-A was included as well in 2018 in Forbes’ list of best employers and as a National Society of High School Scholars top employer.