In the wake of Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy making personal, not corporate, statements against homosexual marriage, several groups moved to boycott the chicken restaurant and get it thrown off of college campuses. The city of San Antonio went further, denying the company leased space in the city’s airport.
Chick-fil-A sued, and the matter went to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It now looks like the FAA has found that San Antonio officials illegally discriminated against the company because of the religious views expressed by the company’s CEO, and has ordered San Antonio to offer the fast-food restaurant space in the city’s airport. For its part, Chick-fil-A contends that it has fully complied with all laws, including those pertaining to diversity and equal treatment of employees.
If San Antonio officials try to take the matter further, they will have to argue that the FAA, a government agency, incorrectly interpreted the statutes and regulations that govern how it operates.
That’s a difficult mountain to climb as government agencies use what’s called the Chevron defense, so-named because in a case involving Chevron the Supreme Court found that it was prudent to give government agencies wide latitude when interpreting regulations governing their actions.
While Chevron tips the scales in favor of the government, which seems at odds with how our system is supposed to work, in this case, it might actually provide a just outcome.