Energy & Environment

Barrett rejects bid to stop Obama library construction

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a last-minute petition seeking to halt construction of an Obama Foundation library on Chicago’s South Side.

The court’s website indicated on Friday that Barrett rejected a bid from Chicago-based organizations and individuals that said the construction should be halted on environmental grounds.

Barrett handles emergency matters emanating from Illinois. She had the option to act on the petition herself or refer it to other justices.

The advocacy group Protect Our Parks and several other plaintiffs claimed that federal, state and local governments illegally segmented the project into smaller pieces in order to evade a full assessment of its environmental impacts.

They also argued that authorities ignored the possibility of using an alternate site to the planned location in Jackson Park. The parks group has said the library should be set in Washington Park a few miles away.

The petitioners’ co-counsel Michael Rachlis indicated in a statement that the organizations would continue to fight the project in lower courts.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing, but not surprising. We still believe that preserving the status quo is fundamental to preventing irreparable harm in Jackson Park. Nonetheless, our core arguments seek to protect the long-term environmental and historical resources in Jackson Park, and we look forward to presenting our evidence and these arguments in the appellate and district court in the coming weeks,” Rachlis said.

An Obama Foundation spokesperson praised the latest development.

“We greatly appreciate the continued support of our project and process by the courts, including now from the highest court in the land,” the spokesperson said on Friday.

“With their support, and the outpouring of support we’ve received from so many on the South Side and across the city of Chicago, we were so pleased to be able to kick off our construction this past week and get us one day closer to doors opening at the Obama Presidential Center,” they added.

The Supreme Court petition was submitted on Monday — the same day construction on the project began.

It came after both a rejection from a lower court and a previous failure at the Supreme Court level to block construction of the library on different legal grounds.

The Obama Presidential Center is expected to feature a museum and library, as well as gardens and a playground.

Updated at 2:29 p.m.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Barack Obama Chicago Environmental review Illinois Obama Presidential Center Presidential library

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