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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Petition To Stop Obama Center Construction In Jackson Park

Protect Our Parks had filed the petition Aug. 16, the same day the Obama Foundation broke ground for the presidential center.

People sit near the Jackson Park Football Fields at the planned site for the Obama Presidential Center in June.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WOODLAWN — Protect Our Parks over the weekend lost a last-ditch try at stopping the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Friday denied the group’s petition for an injunction. The motion had been submitted to Barrett, who has jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. 

Protect Our Parks had turned to the United States’ highest court after two lower courts declined to halt construction.

Construction began last week.

As a federal appellate judge, Barrett rejected some of Protect Our Parks’ claims in a separate lawsuit last year before sending that case back to a lower court.

Protect Our Parks sued the city, the Obama Foundation and federal officials in April, saying reviews of site plans did not follow regulations.

The reviews also failed to consider ways to avoid “adverse effects” to Jackson Park, like overhauling the park’s historical design and removing mature trees — which could be done by locating the Obama Center elsewhere, the group argues.

Judge John Robert Blakey denied Protect Our Parks’ request to halt construction Aug. 5, but he did not issue a detailed opinion until Aug. 12.

The delay forced attorneys Michael Rachlis and Richard Epstein to appeal the ruling without being able to make specific critiques, the attorneys said.

A federal appeals court had declined to stop the center’s construction, paving the way for Monday’s groundbreaking.

“Such delay severely compromised the ability of Applicants to point out any specific errors of law or fact in [Blakey’s] opinion,” Rachlis and Epstein wrote Tuesday to the Supreme Court.

The Obama Center is set for completion in 2025, nine years after officials announced their intention to build in Jackson Park.

The center’s construction is estimated to cost $700 million — $200 million more than previous estimates — according to acting Obama Foundation President Valerie Jarrett. An official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for fall.

Road work near the Obama Center site began Aug. 13, the same day the foundation officially took over 19.3 acres of parkland.

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