Group asks Supreme Court to halt work on Obama presidential library

Washington — An organization focused on protecting public parks in Chicago is asking the Supreme Court to halt construction of former President Barack Obama’s presidential library, arguing the federal government failed to conduct the legally required reviews of the center’s environmental impact.

In their request filed with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the group, Protect Our Parks, said that in building the Obama Presidential Center, the government will need to demolish “significant parts” of Jackson Park, which will have adverse effects on the environment, landscape, wildlife and migratory birds.

“The OPC project will promptly dismantle much of Jackson Park’s historic landscape and obliterate trees, wildlife, as well as all of its historic transportation system,” the organization and several Chicago residents involved in the dispute told the Supreme Court. “These facts make the situation cry out for the proper application of the federal laws that all parties indisputably agree are at issue in this case

They are asking the high court to preclude further work on the center, which was scheduled to begin August 16.

A federal district court and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both declined to block the groundbreaking construction of the Obama Presidential Library. While excavation activities began Monday, tree-cutting is scheduled to begin September 1.

The Obama Foundation announced in 2016 that Jackson Park, in Chicago’s South Side, had been chosen as the site of the Obama Presidential Center, which will house a museum, library and office space.

But the project has been met with opposition, including from Protect Our Parks and a group of professors, faculty and staff from the University of Chicago, who in 2018 asked for its location to be moved.