Lawmakers May Make Chick-fil-A Stay Open on Sundays, Despite Religious Grounds

By: Alex Trent | Last updated: Feb 21, 2024

Chick-fil-A’s longstanding policy of closing their business on Sundays may be under threat in the state of New York. Lawmakers are toying with the idea of forcing restaurants in critical areas to continue serving the community seven days a week.

While the proposal is not specifically aimed at Chick-fil-A, it will nonetheless affect the business’s ability to practice its religious expression.

What Restaurants Would Be Affected?

Restaurants operating in critical transport locations like rest stops would be required to stay open seven days a week to satisfy demand. These restaurants are critical for travelers and truck transport drivers on the road. Chick-fil-A being closed on Sunday is a huge drawback for travelers on the 500-mile New York Thruway.

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A hand holding a bag of Chick-fil-A food.

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There are 27 service areas that would be affected on the Thruway, seven of which have Chick-fil-A restaurants.

What Does the Bill Say?

The bill is called the Rest Stop Restaurant Act and would require food and beverage companies located on the Thruway and Port Authority to operate seven days a week.

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Empty seats in a room where politicians vote.

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“While there is nothing objectionable about a fast food restaurant closing on a particular day of the week, service areas dedicated to travelers is an inappropriate location for such a restaurant,” the bill says. “Publicly owned service areas should use their space to maximally benefit the public. Allowing for retail space to go unused one seventh of the week or more is a disservice and unnecessary inconvenience to travelers who rely on these service areas.”

Chick-fil-A's Sunday Policy

Chick-fil-A has a longstanding policy for its stores to close on Sundays. The company cites religious reasons for the decision but also suggests it’s important for its workers to have a day off to observe their own religious traditions and visit with friends or family.

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A cross standing on the hill.

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“Closing on Sunday is a practice established by our Founder Truett Cathy that we still hold true to today.” (via Chick-fil-A)

Opposition to the Bill

Some lawmakers, primarily Republicans, have spoken out publicly against the bill. Lindsey Graham, senator from South Carolina posted a video on X calling the move “insanity.”

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An official photo of US Senator Lindsey Graham

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“This is a blatant violation of the company’s constitutional rights, and we’re not going to let that happen without a fight. Lend your voice and tell NY to keep their hands off our Chick-fil-A!”

Who Is the Bill’s Sponsor?

The sponsor is a New York assembly member named Tony Simone. He responded to Graham’s comments, seemingly confused as to why the senator was involving himself in a state-level bill from another state.

The U.S. Capitol building is located in Washington D.C.

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He suggested if Graham had read the bill, “He would know that the legislation would not affect current Chick-fil-A locations, and certainly has nothing to do with the midtown locations where he has enjoyed his lunch the past couple of days.” (via CBS News)

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Chick-fil-A’s Contract

A Thruway spokesperson talked to CBS MoneyWatch through an email statement about the controversy.

An open Chick-fil-A serving customers at night.

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“The ruffled feathers, however, may be just that, as Chick-fil-A’s Thruway locations are already locked in. Chick-fil-A has signed a 33-year contract with the highway system, and the brand’s Sunday closure was ‘factored into their tenant plan,'” they said. (via CBS News)

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What About the First Amendment?

One might think that this bill on its face can’t possibly become law because it violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution under religious considerations.

A passport with the beginning line of the preamble to the United States Constitution.

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This amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (via National Archives)

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Does This Bill Violate the First Amendment?

While this bill does seem to violate the spirit of the First Amendment, what makes this situation different is that the government of New York owns the retail space and has already entered into a contract with Chick-fil-A.

A close-up view of a rosary

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This ownership status gives New York a greater degree of control in making rules compared to private companies on private land. Ultimately, any challenges to the bill will have to be settled in court if it becomes law.

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State Interests in Protecting Travelers May Overrule First Amendment Considerations

States are given broad authority to protect the interests of their residents that aren’t already covered by the Federal government. In particular, states are in charge of keeping travelers safe and ensuring they are provided for.

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Courts have ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees a US citizen’s right to travel. States have an interest in ensuring they can accommodate travelers to protect this right.

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Courts Affirm American’s Right to Travel

In John Dalen V. The State, part of the response by the Supreme Court affirmed that travel on public highways is not merely a privilege, but a right.

A horse tied up to a carriage.

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“The right of a citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horse-drawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but a common right which he has under his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” The Supreme Court said.

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Will the Bill Pass?

Lawmakers argue that Sunday is one of the most traveled days of the week, and believe that having locations closed on that day creates a huge need for essential food services. It’s unclear what the chances for this controversial bill to pass are.

A judge banging a gavel at a court bench.

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It remains to be seen how Chik-fil-A would respond to the passage of this bill, but some predict they might sue the government, which may land them in the State or Supreme Court.

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Chick-fil-A's Valentine's Biscuits Receive Backlash on TikTok

A recent TikTok video posted by dissatisfied Chick-fil-A customer Kimmy B has stirred a wave of reactions as she expressed her frustration with the fast-food chain’s limited-edition Valentine’s Day heart-shaped biscuits.

TikTok user KimmyKatB's photograph of her Chick-fil-A heart-shaped biscuit.

KimmyKatB/TikTok

The viral video captured Kimmy’s disappointment over the reduced size of the heart-shaped biscuit compared to Chick-fil-A’s standard round version.

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Heart-Shaped Biscuit Leaves Something to be Desired

Chick-fil-A’s decision to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a unique heart-shaped biscuit involved altering the traditional round form, resulting in the removal of a portion from the center.

Regular round biscuits stacked on top of one another.

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This modification, however, left Kimmy feeling shortchanged and vocal about her dissatisfaction. In the TikTok video, she highlighted the size difference, audibly expressing, “I feel like a piece of my bread is missing.”

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Chick-fil-A Robs Customers on Valentine's Day

Continuing her commentary on the altered biscuit, Kimmy pointed to the section that had been removed and stated, “I would like this piece of the bread.

TikTok user KimmyKatB shows the missing portion of biscuit with her fingers.

KimmyKatB/TikTok

I don’t need this piece of the bread taken out to make a heart-shaped biscuit, Chick-fil-A. Give me the rest of the bread please.”

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Her sentiments resonated with TikTok users who shared similar feelings of being “robbed” by the downsized heart-shaped version.

KimmyKatB's followers chime in in agreement about the heart-shaped biscuit.

KimmyKatB/TikTok

TikTok user Jasmine commented “girl I’ve always said the same thing!!” This was echoed by user Grimm.3D, who said “I just noticed that this morning. I totally agree.”

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Further TikTok Commentors Feel Robbed by Chick-fil-A

Commenters on the video empathized with Kimmy’s perspective, with one noting, “Felt the same way yesterday morning was so upset.” Another expressed solidarity, saying, “RIGHT!! We need to choose that option lol,” while a different user concurred, stating, “Girl same, I feel robbed.”

A close-up of a woman's face. The woman is screaming at the viewer and her hair is partially obscuring her face.

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Despite the discontent, some found humor in Kimmy’s passionate reaction, highlighting the “conviction” in her voice as a source of amusement.

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Chick-fil-A's Valentine's Biscuit Flop

As Valentine’s Day approaches on February 14, Chick-fil-A customers can anticipate the continued availability of the heart-shaped biscuits until the conclusion of the celebratory period.

A Chick-fil-A restaurant with its light on at night. The Chick-fil-A logo is visible in the middle of the photo.

Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

While the limited-edition item aims to add a festive touch to the menu, the altered size has evidently sparked disappointment among some patrons who have grown accustomed to the traditional round biscuit offered by the popular fast-food chain.

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