ChicagoNorth Side

Quote of the day – basic First Amendment law

by Joe Zekas on 7/25/12

According to a Tribune report, Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno doesn’t want Chick-fil-A in the 1st Ward because of statements allegedly made by the company’s owner. Moreno dismissed concerns about the owner’s First Amendment rights: “You have the right to say what you want to say, but zoning is not a right.”

UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, who teaches First Amendment law, weighs in:

Even if the government may deny permits to people based on various reasons, it may not deny permits to people based on their exercise of his First Amendment rights. It doesn’t matter if the applicant expresses speech that doesn’t share the government officials’ values, or even the values of the majority of local citizens. It doesn’t matter if the applicant’s speech is seen as “disrespect[ful]” of certain groups. The First Amendment generally protects people’s rights to express such views without worrying that the government will deny them business permits as a result. That’s basic First Amendment law — but Alderman Moreno, Mayor Menino, and, apparently, Mayor Emanuel (if his statement is quoted in context), seem to either not know or not care about the law.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Rojas July 25, 2012 at 9:42 PM

There should be a show called “When alderman speak” that goes on right after “When animals attack”.

It also amazes me that people are ok with an Alderman (one person) deciding what business proposals will EVEN be brought to the people for their input, let alone, what zoning change applications will be denied.

In a recent meeting an alderman said that he won’t even bring a business proposal to the community if he doesn’t think it should happen. So, that’s that.


anon July 29, 2012 at 9:33 AM

This is why Chicago is a second city. It is run like a circus.


Joe Zekas July 25, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Our aldermen are frightening creatures. Truly frightening.

What’s sad is that some of them don’t seem to be aware how many businesses they scare away from opening in the city. Even sadder, some deliberately deter almost any business from opening in “their” ward.


IrishPirate July 26, 2012 at 12:14 AM

Is “Proco” Spanish for “head up ass”?

It does share a similarity with this word:


the branch of medicine dealing with the rectum and anus.

I’m no linguist like John McWhorter, but my basic understanding of how languages evolve is that words tend to get shorter over time and as they migrate from one language to the next. At least that’s what McWhorter claims in some of his voluminous writings.

Perhaps Moreno can take a page out of the Brendan Reilly book and start a newsletter called the “Moreno Minute” to compete with “Reilly Reports”. This does strike me as similar to something Reilly would say.

For more amusement on Reilly I suggest typing his name into the search box at the upper right hand of this page. He’s unworthy of a hyperlink. He’s another alderman with the seeming belief that he can dictate what businesses do and don’t do in his ward. Zoning and property rights be damned.

Now the best way to deal with Chik Fil A is to let them come in, spend a boatload of money buying and renovating buildings and then let the market deal with them. I find their owner’s social and political beliefs abhorrent, but the FIRST amendment and property rights trump my distaste.

Freedom means people may do things you disagree with. The politically correct lefties are just as dangerous as the puritanical righties. They both want to control what others can view or believe.


It’s too bad I’m not a Supreme Court Justice. Like Justice Potter’s famous definition of obscenity, “I know it when I see it”, my “Thpppt” would go down in the law and the culture as something slightly less important than the Magna Carta in the development of western jurisprudence and the concept of rights.



IrishPirate July 26, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Hmmm, apparently there is a Chik Fil A restaurant already in Chicago in Reilly’s ward.

Reilly actually said something that made sense. I am surprised.

“If citizens find the corporation’s views distasteful, they can vote with their feet,” Reilly said.

I guess his “I am the law” schtick only applies to planned highrises, Children’s Museums, and helipads. I kid Alderbeast Reilly. No, I don’t.


Joe Zekas July 26, 2012 at 1:11 AM

On June 15, just after noon, I saw Chicagoans (and probably some tourists) voting with their feet, waiting to get into Chick-fil-A on a line that stretched around the block onto Wabash from Chicago Ave.


SheridanB August 15, 2012 at 11:13 AM

I don’t understand what the big issue and hubbub were about – I’ve known their views for many, many years. Was it like a surprise or something (it’s like those sitcoms with wacky characters, who have been married for years yet seem not to have realized the others craziness until just that moment)?


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