Texas Supreme Court rules for San Antonio in ‘Chick-fil-A’ lawsuit brought by conservative activists

Conservative activists suing the city of San Antonio alleging it violated Texas’ “Save Chick-fil-a” law have failed to offer evidence of a violation, the state Supreme Court has ruled. Texas on Friday morning, sending the case to trial court. .

The case dates back to a 2019 city council decision to reject the chain’s request to open a restaurant at San Antonio International Airport due to what a council member described as support for the company to Christian groups to anti-LGBTQ programs.

Later that year, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law — Chick-fil-A cup in hand — the bill that allows any individual to sue governments that have taken “adverse action” against businesses because of their support for religious organizations.

A group of San Antonio-area people, including conservative activist and former council candidate Patrick von Dohlen, sued the city under the new law. They are represented by attorney Jonathan Mitchell, a former state solicitor general who helped draft the legislation, and are supported by amicus briefs from 62 Republican state lawmakers and Abbott.

The judges said the plaintiffs had “not alleged sufficient facts” to sue a government body for official action. The court said that actions taken before the law took effect could not be considered violations of it, and that past actions could not be used to assume that the city would violate the law in the future. .

“But, more importantly, we do not believe that the conduct of the city in March 2019 alone provides a reasonable inference that there is a ‘credible threat’ of adverse action after September 1, 2019 against Chick-fil. -A by the city,” the court ruling reads. “Indeed, the opposite is true. Rather than assuming the city would violate (the law), we assume it would abide by (the law), until proven otherwise.

The case took years to get to the state Supreme Court, so Friday’s ruling is a substantial setback for the plaintiffs.

“It is gratifying that the Supreme Court has recognized that the plaintiffs do not allege a violation of the law. The fact is that the city did not break the law and will not break the law in the future. This case should be over and plaintiffs shouldn’t waste taxpayers’ money anymore,” said city attorney Neel Lane.

Supporters of the lawsuit against the city also applauded the ruling, saying that while it invalidates their legal reasoning and sends the case to a lower court, the Supreme Court did not side with a lower court that was inclined to dismiss the case entirely, so the legal challenge survived.

“We are grateful that this case can continue to move forward to protect religious freedom,” wrote Jonathan Saenz, president and attorney for Texas Values, a conservative advocacy group that filed on behalf of the plaintiffs.

As part of an agreement with President Donald Trump’s Federal Aviation Administration, in September 2020 the city finally offered the original airport spot to Chick-fil-A.

Chick-fil-a declined, and Whataburger is expected to open this spring instead.

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