San Antonio’s Religious Hostility

In March, the City Council of San Antonio voted to approve a concession space contract regarding the San Antonio International Airport on condition Chick-fil-A be excluded. The council members’ reason for excluding Chick-fil-A was that the company has a history of religious activity that the city council found offensive, such as donating to causes like the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The hostile message sent by San Antonio is that a business that does not agree with the government’s preferred opinion is not welcome to do business in that city. That’s not only wrong, it’s also illegal.

First Liberty in Action

Almost immediately, First Liberty urged Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to investigate the City Council of San Antonio for religious discrimination, asking whether city officials failed to comply with the assurances of nondiscrimination required as a federal grant recipient. An investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration began in May.

First Liberty also asked city council members for public records such as staff reports, comments, and assessments relating to the proposed concession agreement between the City of San Antonio and Paradies Lagadère, which had included Chick-fil-A. Initially, the city fought the request.

But, after First Liberty Institute joined a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking access to the documents, the city turned over thousands of pages of internal communications.

News Release
For Immediate Release: 7.9.19
Contact: Lacey McNiel,
Direct: 972-941-4453

First Liberty Institute Joins Texas Attorney General’s Lawsuit Demanding Records of San Antonio Decision Against Chick-fil-A
Lawsuit seeks documents explaining decision to ban popular restaurant from having location at airport because of the chain’s charitable giving

San Antonio, TX—First Liberty Institute today joined a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking documents from San Antonio city officials regarding the City’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from operating at the San Antonio International Airport.  The city earlier denied the religious liberty law firm’s request for records, which was similar to that filed by the Attorney General.

“If San Antonio city officials are proud of their decision to ban Chick-fil-A from the city’s airport, why do they insist on hiding from the public its records about the decision?” said Keisha Russell, Counsel to First Liberty Institute.  “The public deserves to know just how deeply the religious animosity runs within San Antonio’s city government.  We’re happy to be joining General Paxton in the effort to get to the bottom of San Antonio’s decision.”

In April, First Liberty Institute attorneys requested from officials in San Antonio public records relating to the City’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A from its airport.  Despite Texas laws that promote transparency and accountability, San Antonio city officials sought to deny access to public records regarding the City’s decision.

The Texas Attorney General’s office also requested records from city officials, filing its own lawsuit after the City sought to deny access to the documents.

To download a copy of this press release, click here.

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