Chick-Fil-a First Amendment Controversy Essay
The Wall Street Journal article written by Jack Nicas titled “First Amendment Trumps Critics of Chick-fil-A” overviews the hotly debated topic of Chick-Fil-A and it’s CEO Dan Cathy’s comment that he supports “the biblical definition of a family unit”. His comments have sparked outrage, assertions of bigotry, a record revenue day, millions of social media postings, hundreds of thousands of protestors, and even comments from mayors in Chicago and Boston that they will not allow Chick-Fil-A to open new stores in their cities. The debate over whether or not Mr.
Cathy’s comments were “anti-gay” or not is irrelevant in this case, as what is important is the test of whether or not a local government leader can essentially block free enterprise in this country. The article states that after the initial comments of not allowing Chick-Fil-A to open new stores by these mayors, they have subsequently retracted and/or clarified their statements on the grounds of the First Amendment. The First Amendment allows free speech by individuals and by corporations. For corporations, it is more specifically that commercial speech that is tested in the legal system with regard to the First Amendment.
This is speech that is done with the intent of making profit. In this article and this situation, the comments by Mr. Cathy were not made as an official corporate speech with the intent of driving revenue. Instead, his comments were made as his own personal viewpoint and therefore should be regarded as his right to free speech and opinions. The problem has occurred since he is the CEO and many are interpreting it that Chick-Fil-A as a corporate entity made these comments, and as such many are exercising their own First Amendment rights to protest and voice their own opinions in response.
On the other side of the spectrum are those who support everything Mr. Cathy stated and wish to support him and the corporation which he runs and in doing so set a one day record for sales for Chick-Fil-A. As mentioned, since what he said and any personal opinions for or against what he said are all First Amendment protected free speech issues, one needs to focus on the reactions of those acting on behalf of local governments. By definition in the First Amendment, governments in the United States cannot discriminate based on religion, freedom of speech or freedom of press.
What these mayors were attempting to do however, was to infringe on Chick-FIl-A’s rights to operate business in their cities because they had personal disagreements with Mr. Cathy’s comments. Essentially, they were claiming that they had the authority to keep Chick-Fil-A out of their cities because of what was said by Mr. Cathy and that they believed differently. As the article states, and is aptly titled, lawyers for these mayors have explained that it is illegal for this action and subsequently their comments have been retracted.
In conclusion, on an objective note, whether one agrees with Mr. Cathy or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion and is granted the freedom and protection of voicing their opinions. It is also confirmed in this article, as well as in the wording of the First Amendment of the Constitution that this freedom is sacred and protected regardless of view. If a government official, whether at the local, state or national level tries to infringe on these rights, they are acting unlawfully and that will be confirmed by any court in the country.
Even if the CEO was speaking directly as the representative of the company, since corporations are legal entities, this would be covered under the First Amendment as well. Therefore, as the article states, the mayors of these cities were acting within their First Amendment rights in publically disagreeing with Mr. Cathy, but were overstepping their legal authority in claiming they could block Chick-Fil-A from operating or expanding in their cities. Works Cited Jack Nicas (July 28, 2012). First Amendment Trumps Critics of Chick-fil-A. The Wall Street Journal,