How To Ban Chick-fil-a

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
July 27 2012 3:06 PM

How To Ban Chick-fil-a From Your City

Chick-fil-A in Springfield, Va.
Chick-fil-A in Springfield, Va.

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

As best I can tell nobody except Rahm Emanuel thinks it would be a good idea to enact a citywide ban on Chick-fil-a outlets on the grounds that the owner of the company has said distasteful things about marriage equality. And good for them! But I hope that friends of free speech will note that while the Constitution would almost certainly prevent Chicago from de jure banning Chick-fil-a on these grounds, it's almost trivially easy for jurisdictions to abuse the extremely wide discretion they're granted to de facto do the same thing.

For example, there are 1,641 Chick-fil-a outlets in the United States and Chick-fil-a, as part of its owners' socially conservative approach, doesn't open on Sunday. So all a city needs to do is say that if a quick service restaurant with more than 1,500 branches wants to open, it must be open seven days a week. I'm fairly certain that wouldn't restrict any businesses other than Chick-fil-a, and the reason to do it would be the owners' outspoken right-wing politics, but the rule would be "content neutral" so you're OK.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 31 2014 1:29 PM You, The Gabfest, and a Hotel Room Win tickets to attend a taping of the Political Gabfest, live from David’s Chicago hotel room.