Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Friday denied an attempt to stop construction of the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side.
Barrett, a Trump nominee, denied an application (pdf) by community groups that argued the construction will require demolition of “significant parts” of Jackson Park and should therefore trigger a fresh review before being built.
“We are deeply concerned that construction associated with the ‘groundbreaking’ in and around Jackson Park puts the historic and environmental elements in the park in imminent danger and may also derail the ability for the Court to thoroughly examine the legal arguments outlined by the Plaintiffs in our lawsuit,” Protect Our Parks and other plaintiffs said in a recent statement.
Lower courts rejected the bid to halt work on the center, which started on Monday, prompting the appeal to the nation’s top court.
Barrett is able to decide whether to elevate emergency appeals to the full court or deny them outright. She chose the latter. She did not explain her decision.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs did not immediately return requests for comment.
“We greatly appreciate the continued support of our project and process by the courts, including now from the highest court in the land,” a spokesperson for the Obama Foundation told news outlets. “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.”
The center is being built on a 19.3-acre site within the 550-acre Jackson Park. The multiyear federal review of the center was completed early this year.
Former President Barack Obama said in a video message in February regarding the center that he and his wife, from the beginning, “knew there was only one place for the Obama Presidential Center: the South Side of Chicago.”
“It’s where I met Michelle. Just a couple miles from where she grew up. Where Sasha and Malia were born. Where I became a community organizer and won my first election,” he said.
Obama and supporters say the center will create jobs and boost the economy of the area. Obama said the plans “won’t just preserve historic Jackson Park, they’ll bring opportunity and breathe new life into the community we love.”
Critics say the massive undertaking will dramatically alter the history of the area and that the agencies that reviewed the project failed to study reasonable alternatives, as required by federal law.
“At least one such site, located just to the west of Washington Park, would have been found to be not only prudent and feasible, but also superior to the Jackson Park site,” plaintiffs argued in a court document.