I explain why denying them a permit based solely on the political beliefs of their president is wrong at much greater length. In particular, the argument advanced by some commenters that the actions of Chicago’s government are acceptable because Cathy’s beliefs cause real harm run into the obvious problem that pretty much every single case of suppressing speech is based on an argument that the speech is harmful.
One comment I didn’t get a chance to respond to is Jacob Levy’s point that the permit process is so arbitrary that in an ordinary case it would be virtually impossible to prove discrimination. I think this is right; had this just been done quietly with no public statement of motives, there would be no viable way to challenge the process. To me, the takeaway is that this is yet another reason not to fetishize state and local government….