On Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Christian conservative, sent a letter to San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of the city council announcing that he was opening an investigation into San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A, which has strong Christian views, from opening concession facilities in an airport terminal.
As The Texas Tribune noted of Chick-fil-A, “Its corporate purpose is ‘to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.’ It is, famously, ‘closed on Sundays.’”
Dear Mayor Nirenberg and City Councilmembers:
The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil- A’s chicken. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport. Please see the enclosed letter from my office to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao highlighting my concerns that the City’s recent action to remove Chick-fil-A from the City’s new airport concessionaire contract may violate federal law and applicable federal regulations. You should also note that I have directed my office to open an investigation into whether the City’s action violates state law. I trust the City will fully cooperate with my investigation into this matter, and will abide by relevant federal and state laws in the future.
In his letter to Chao, Paxton asked the federal Department of Transportation to “open an investigation into San Antonio’s potential breach of federal law and your agency’s regulations prohibiting religious discrimination by federal grant recipients.” He added:
Last week, the San Antonio City Council voted to discriminate against a popular American fast food restaurant—Chick-fil-A—because of that organization’s religious beliefs … the City’s decision to specifically exclude Chick-fil-A from a government program based on the sincerely-held religious beliefs of its leadership raises serious constitutional questions … In addition to potential violations of the First Amendment, it seems likely the City of San Antonio’s apparent discrimination against Chick-fil-A violates various federal statutes and regulations to which the City is subject as a recipient of Department of Transportation grant funds … There is no evidence indicating that Chik-fil-A has ever maintained any policy or practice of discriminating against any group of people, and the City offered no such evidence as the basis of its action. Indeed, shortly after the City’s decision was announced, a member of the City Council who dissented from the City’s decision openly apologized to the Chairman of Chick-fil-A, noting that the restaurant “employs and serves everyone, without prejudice, discrimination or hate.”
As The Daily Wire noted on March 23:
In a 6-4 vote, with one abstention, the San Antonio City Council voted March 21 to deny the chicken restaurant a spot in the terminal’s 10,000 square feet of available space, according to a report from Out In SA, the sister publication of the San Antonio Current. The restaurant was one of ten stores that was planned to inhabit the space … The reason the city council voted against Chick-Fil-A is the same reason leftists continue to attack the restaurant chain — the company’s religious views. Out In SA reporter Sam Sanchez claimed the restaurant “has long had a reputation for being anti-LGBTQ.”
Roberto C. Trevino, San Antonio’s district 1 city councilman, told Sanchez that he was the one who made the motion to keep Chick-Fil-A from the airport, and that his motion passed after a prolonged discussion.