Virtue Signaling Bigots


Dear Mayor Nirenberg:


I write as one member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1, and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole, to address the bigoted virtue-signaling displayed by the City Council in banning Chick-Fil-A from the San Antonio airport.2   If the City Council had banned Chick-Fil-A from the airport because its members hate the tastiest chicken sandwiches  in creation, there would be no constitutional violation.  The City Council, however, explicitly banned Chick-Fil-A because of the company’s charitable donations to religious organizations. Fortune reports:“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion,” said City Councilman Roberto Treviño.  “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our facilities for a company with a history of anti-LGBTQ  behavior.”3  The lack of self-awareness in that statement is astonishing.  Exclusion in the name of ostensible inclusion; intolerance in the name of tolerance.  The First Amendment protects the free speech rights of contractors in their dealings with government officials.  This means that government officials are prohibited from terminating contractors based on their speech.4   “Speech” includes monetary donations to organizations that government officials may not like.5  And as First Amendment scholars point out, governments may not refuse to hire contractors because of their speech, nor may they pressure contractors into taking action against a third party.6

In 2013, the Commission held a hearing on conflicts between nondiscrimination and religious liberty. The types of conflicts envisioned at that briefing were cake bakers who were asked to bake cakes for same-sex weddings and Catholic nuns required to provide contraceptive coverage.7  These were legitimate constitutional issues.The idea of a city council banning a fast-food restaurant because the restaurant’s owners gave money to organizations that espouse traditional religious beliefs in regard to marriage would have been too far-fetched to consider.  Yet here we are, with the council of a city named for a Catholic saint singling out a fast-food restaurant for opprobrium and disparate treatment because the owners gave money to religious organizations that share the Catholic Church’s view of marriage. I respectfully suggest that by that standard,  City Council’s got a lot more banning to do.  What an amazingly stupid time to be alive.

I urge the City Council to rescind its ban of Chick-Fil-A. Failing that, I expect Chick-Fil-A will sue the City Council members in their official and personal capacities. I doubt the taxpayers of San Antonio will consider the legal fees and damages the City will incur to be worth Council members’exercise in moral vanity.


Peter Kirsanow



1The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding agency comprised of eight members.42 U.S.C. §1975.

2Chris Morris, “Chick-Fil-A Banned From San Antonio Airport,”Fortune, March 22, 2019,


4Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr, 518 U.S. 668 (1996); O’Hare Truck Service v. City of Northlake,
518 U.S. 712 (1996).

5One might think it is impossible to be pettier than to ban a chicken sandwich shop because you don’t like the owners’ beliefs. The San Antonio City Council somehow manages to sink even lower and oppose people standing out in the cold, ringing bells to raise money for the poor. In Council’s defense, smug if oblivious righteousness is a powerful intoxicant.

6Eugene Volokh, “San Antonio Likely Violating Chick-Fil-A’s First Amendment Rights,” The Volokh Conspiracy, Mar. 26, 2019,; Hans Bader, SanAntonio violates Chick-fil-A’s First Amendment rights,” Liberty Unyielding, Mar. 24, 2019,

7SeeU.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling NondiscriminationPrinciples with Civil Liberties, Written Statement of Alan Brownstein, at 177 (2016),; see also U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling NondiscriminationPrinciples with Civil Liberties, Written Statement of Leslie C. Griffin, at 220-221 (2016),



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  1. If San Antonio reverses it’s stand it won’t be out of remorse for making a hasty decision concerning Chick fil A or for having reconsidered that perhaps they were wrong in discriminating against the restaurant on religious grounds but because there may be a very real sense of concern in being sued. Money talks louder than being moral and virtuous.

  2. Like so many other cities, San Antonio is stuck on stupid.
    I refuse to live in a large city. Near one but not in one.

  3. It’s funny; with Planned Parenthood, organic pressure– folks refusing to sell to them, mostly– is horrible because it keeps them out of neighborhoods.

    With CfA, they have to hijack gov’t authority to force the community to not allow access, and that’s magically OK, even though I have only ever seen one CfA that was open and not packed. (In spite of the cars going through two to three times as fast as the near by fastfood places.)

  4. I was trying to lose weight. Every time I hear/see such trash, I want to eat twice at Chic-Fil-A. Clean Stores. Good Service. Tastes Great!

  5. “Yet here we are, with the council of a city named for a Catholic saint singling out a fast-food restaurant for opprobrium and disparate treatment because the owners gave money to religious organizations that share the Catholic Church’s view of marriage.”

    Sue ’em big. Money out of the council’s pocket might set a good example to the next city named after a Saint that tries to squash free speech.

  6. What gets you is:

    1. The smarm mixed with aggression.
    2. The gleichschaltung. It’s chicken. Joe Blow is not permitted to transact for chicken because the officious nuisances on the San Antonio city council do not approve of the political and religious views of the franchiseur. (Given that his franchises are being denied a spot in a public space, a constitutional question is raised, btw).

    3. The smart money says that about 8 of the 11 members of the city council are nominal Catholics. Heckuva job, Bp. Matthiesen.

  7. Next time i am in SA i will have to stroll through the airport with a big chik fil a bag wafting its aromatic magic througout the terminals.

  8. For the record, Bishop Matthiesen, who died in 2010, was Bishop of Amarillo from 1980 to 1997. He would have been perfectly at home with the pro-homosexual Francis regime and the idiotic action of the San Antonio City Council discusses here, but had no direct connection with San Antonio, and never served there in any capacity. That said, the current Archbishop, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, is not exactly a conservative. He kicked a house of Mother Angelica’s Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration out of the Archdiocese for no apparent reason and has excoriated President Trump’s efforts to control the border. I’m real glad I don’t live in San Antonio any more.

  9. So now the Buffalo airport in New York has banned Chick-fil-A from opening up a restaurant. The war against Christians continues unabated. Hang on to your hats brothers and sisters, this ain’t over yet!

  10. My mistake. I conflated Bp. Matthiesen with some other Bp. There was Matthiesen, who thought we all needed to here what he thought of nuclear strategy, the bishop in Santa Fe who had in a previous posting admitted Rudy Kos into seminary (there was a letter in the file from the previous seminary rector delineating his decision not to admit him on his previous attempt, and there were frantic phone calls from the former Mrs. Kos explaining why she sought an annulment), and the other bishop in that zone who used to go shopping at Jemez Springs for inmates whom he’d place in country parishes in west Texas. Then there was the one-two punch of Tschoepe and Grahmann in Dallas – 37 years of aarrrrgh. Hard to keep ’em all straight.

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