Supreme Court Allows Barack Obama Library to Be Built, Despite Controversy

The U.S. Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for former President Barack Obama's presidential center on Monday despite ongoing controversy about its location in Chicago's Jackson Park.

This is the second time the court has denied an application for an injunction against the Obama Presidential Center, which will be overseen by the nonprofit Obama Foundation.

Chief Justice John Roberts denied an application for relief filed by Protect Our Parks, a Chicago-based nonprofit group "dedicated to keeping public park land open to the public," according to the website.

The denial of the application was published among a long list of other orders from the court on Monday.

Protect Our Parks named Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as defendant in their request for an injunction. The group wants his department to stop any construction from taking place in Jackson Park and argue he has the necessary authority to do so.

"The application for injunctive relief addressed to the Chief Justice and referred to the Court is denied," the court's order said.

This is the second time Protect Our Parks has sought injunctive relief from the court this year. In August, the group applied for an emergency stay from Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who supervises the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Barrett denied the request for an injunction without giving comment on August 20. That application was then refiled with the chief justice on August 27 and Protect Our Parks filed a brief with the 7th Circuit on September 20 in support of their request for a preliminary injunction. The application to the Supreme Court was denied by Roberts this week.

Protect Our Parks has argued that the construction will "demolish significant parts of Jackson Park, its historical resources, parkland, and trees, which will, in turn, adversely affect the human environment, the historic landscape, wildlife, and migratory birds."

The legal fight surrounding the Obama Presidential Center is likely to continue as construction is estimated to last five years and there have already been years of controversy since the former president chose to build on Chicago's South Side in 2016.

A mandatory federal review of the project lasted for four years but concluded in February that the center would have "no significant impact to the human environment."

Protect Our Parks filed an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against the project in 2018 and filed another suit in April this year that argues the Obama Foundation did not conduct full federal reviews of alternative sites. That case is pending.

Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the presidential center on Tuesday, September 28

"We want this center to be more than a static museum or a source of archival research. It won't just be a collection of campaign memorabilia or Michelle's ballgowns, although I know everybody will come see those," the former president said.

"It won't just be an exercise in nostalgia or looking backwards. We want to look forward," he said.

Newsweek has contacted Protect Our Parks for comment.

Obamas Break Ground on the Presidential Center
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on September 28, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Supreme Court denied an application to injunct the construction on Monday. Scott Olson/Getty Images