ACLU Backs Chick-fil-A Against Rahm Emanuel's Threatened Ban

Thursday, 26 Jul 2012 05:15 PM

By Patrick Hobin

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Chicago and Boston might want to keep Chick-fil-A out of their cities but that doesn’t mean they have the right to do so, according to the ACLU.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s recent comments supporting the “biblical definition” of marriage as between a man and a woman has led to calls by gay rights advocates to boycott the chain. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have recently promised to stop further expansion of the restaurants in their cities. Emanuel weighed in after Chicago Alderman Proco Joe Moreno said he intends to block the chain from opening its second Chicago location because of Cathy’s remarks.

Legal experts said the cities’ push to stop Chick-fil-A doesn’t stand a chance because barring Chick-fil-A over the personal views of its owner is an “open and shut” discrimination case, Fox News reported.

Special Report: Obama’s Assault on Religion — Click Here Now

“The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, told Fox News. “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 told Fox, but said 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.”

Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, told Fox News barring the restaurant raises “serious” constitutional concerns.

“It’s also a very slippery slope,” Turley told Fox News. “If a City Council started to punish companies because of the viewpoints of their chief operating officers, that would become a very long list of banned companies.”

Wilson Huhn, a professor and associate director of the Constitutional Law Center at The University of Akron School of Law, told Fox News that denying the restaurant the right to locate in Chicago “absolutely” violates the First Amendment. “It would be an open and shut case,” Huhn told Fox News. “You can’t do that. They cannot be denied a zoning permit based upon the viewpoint of their CEO.”

Cathy's position of supporting the biblical definition of marriage is not out of the mainstream as polls show Americans approve of gay marriage by 50-48 percent, according to Fox News.

Meantime, the Rev. Billy Graham has thrown his support behind the embattled Cathy and announced plans to stop by the fast food restaurant next Wednesday as part of Mike Huckabee’s “Eat Mor Chikin” promotion.

Special Report: Obama’s Assault on Religion — Click Here Now


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