Lawsuit over Chick-fil-A removal at San Antonio airport tossed by state appeals court

Judge: Appellees wanted to 'undo and invalidate a contract previously approved '

Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A. (Alex Wong/Getty Images))

A state appeals court has rejected a conservative group’s lawsuit over the city’s decision to remove Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio International Airport due to its stance on the LBGTQ community.

The group filed the lawsuit days after the “Save Chick-fil-A” law, which prevents local governments from retaliating against a business for their donations to or affiliations with a religious organization, took effect in September.

The group alleged the city’s “continued exclusion of Chick-fil-A” was a violation of the statute, according to the ruling from the Fourth Court of Appeals.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill in July — surrounded by Chick-fil-A cups and bags — but it did not take effect until Sept. 1. It was in response to a new San Antonio contract with a concessionaire that excluded Chick-fil-A.

Agreement reached to provide records related to city’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A at airport

Five conservatives filed the lawsuit days after the law took effect, the ruling states.

The court ruled that because the law is not retroactive, the dispute centers on any violations that occurred on or after Sept. 1

The group wanted to “to undo and invalidate a contract previously approved by the city council, compel the City to re-open the contract approval process, and require the City to re-award the contract to a subcontractor that will operate a Chick-fil-A restaurant in the airport,” Chief Justice Sandee Bryan Marion wrote.

City Council approved a new, seven-year contract with an Atlanta-based Paradies Lagardère in March 2019.

City Council’s vote to exclude Chick-Fil-A at San Antonio’s airport draws applause, criticism

That contract excluded Chick-fil-A, but brought in locally branded concepts like Boss Bagel, Local Coffee and Smoke Shack.

District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino made the motion, citing Chick-fil-A’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” he said at the time.

The decision brought heat both at City Hall and at the state level.

Then-councilman Greg Brockhouse called for a re-vote the following month, but the council voted against the motion 6-5.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton demanded records relating to the vote, saying the exclusion of a business based on its religious beliefs “demonstrates a total disregard for Texas law and the First Amendment protections in our Constitution.”


About the Author:

Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.