IL-COOK-CHICAGO-L ArchivesArchiver > IL-COOK-CHICAGO > 2006-08 > 1154736837
From: "Dave Witthans" <>
Subject: Fw: SJCA - DC Court of Appeals Renders Judgment
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2006 17:13:57 -0700
Thanks Valentine for the information, albeit not so good...
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From: .... valentine53179
Sent: Friday, August 04, 2006 4:52 PM
Subject: SJCA - DC Court of Appeals Renders Judgment (L2) and
Subject: SJCA - DC Court of Appeals Renders Judgment (L2) and
For those with early relatives in Bensenville border in Cook and DuPage Areas, this could be a very important (and sad) turn of events:
Subject: DC Court of Appeals Renders Judgment (L2)
St. Johannes Cemetery Alliance (SJCA) eNews August 4, 2006
On Friday, August 4th, the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its
decision with respect to the religious claims raised by the Church against
the Federal Aviation Administration in that Court.
Unfortunately, the split decision (2 to 1) of the Court was not in favor of
the Church. The two judges in the majority concluded that the City of
Chicago, not the FAA, is responsible for any religious harm that might occur
as a result of the O'Hare Expansion Plan. As a result, the majority ruled
that the case in D.C. should be dismissed, and the Church should continue to
pursue its case against the City of Chicago in the Seventh Circuit in
Chicago. The Church is still awaiting a decision from the Seventh Circuit,
as it has been for about seven months, and the Church remains hopeful about
There is also strong possibility for an appeal due to a strongly worded
dissent from the third judge in the D.C. case. The third judge essentially
said that the majority's decision is contrary to prior U.S. Supreme Court
decisions, and that the decision should have been in favor of St. John's.
The judge said that because the FAA had the power to approve or deny the
City's application to expand O'Hare, it was responsible for any harm that
might occur to St. Johannes Cemetery. The judge also concluded that under
the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and U.S. Constitution, the FAA has
failed to establish a need to destroy St. Johannes, referring specifically
to one alternative design (which the FAA rejected without explanation or
justification) that would have moved a runway a mere 350 feet and would
avoid any impact on St. Johannes. Obviously, we would have preferred if the
two other judges had agreed with Judge Griffith's point of view.
The Church continues to await a decision from the Seventh Circuit in
Chicago. In addition, the Church is exploring with its attorneys the
possibility of an appeal to the entire panel of ten D.C. Circuit judges.
This could be followed by an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. In
the meantime, the injunction imposed by the proceedings in the Seventh
Circuit continues to apply, and the City of Chicago is unable to do any harm
to St. Johannes Cemetery or the sacred resting place of our loved ones.
Because the Church's case involves very important religious freedom issues
that are of importance to people of all faiths, St. John's Church continues
to ask for your prayers and support. As always, we will do our best to keep
you informed of future news, as it comes to our attention.
Bob Sell, Esq.
St. John's UCC Spokesperson
Rev. Michael Kirchhoff
St. John's UCC Cemetery Committee Person
O'Hare expansion survives legal challenge
By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune transportation reporter
Published August 4, 2006, 4:00 PM CDT
Chicago's plan to uproot a 157-year-old religious cemetery and demolish hundreds of suburban homes that are in the way of expanding O'Hare International Airport survived today one of its last legal challenges.
The 2-1 decision in Chicago's favor by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., leaves O'Hare expansion opponents with one remaining appeal still pending in a lower court, barring any additional filings.
The city cannot relocate graves in St. Johannes Cemetery until the legal action is wrapped up. It can, however, continue to buy homes and other properties it needs in Bensenville for the airport expansion, though the village is refusing to issue demolition permits.
The three-judge Court of Appeals panel today essentially said the Federal Aviation Administration cannot be held liable for violating the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because the O'Hare expansion is a Chicago project.
The FAA last year approved the city's plan for new runways and pledged more than $300 million in federal funding.
The FAA agreed with the city to reject an alternate airfield layout for O'Hare expansion that would not have required relocating up to 1,600 graves at St. Johannes, which is on the southwest edge of O'Hare.
The appeals court said the FAA played a "peripheral role" in the matter.
"The city -- not the FAA -- is the cause of any burden on religious exercise because of its role as inventor, organizer, patron and builder of the O'Hare expansion … and at the end of the day, the city will carry out the seizure and physical relocation of St. Johannes Cemetery," the court ruling said.
O'Hare expansion opponents had argued the city's plan to move the graves violated the federal religious freedom law and could prevent "the physical resurrection" of people buried there.
Rosemarie Andolino, chief of the O'Hare expansion for the city, said today's court ruling knocked down one of the final legal obstacles to the $15 billion airport plan. She said construction is continuing, and the city plans to open the first new runway, on the north part of the airfield, in 2008.
Airport expansion opponents involved in the litigation—Bensenville, Elk Grove Village and St. John's United Church of Christ—continue to press their case in another lawsuit pending in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In that suit, attorneys for St. John's, which owns St. Johannes Cemetery, claim Chicago is violating state law as well as the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment's free exercise clause.
They are challenging legislation that the Illinois General Assembly passed in 2003 that specifically exempted St. Johannes and nearby Rest Haven Cemetery from the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The city subsequently said it would not need the Rest Haven land for new runways, though the city has reserved the right to change its decision.
Bensenville and Elk Grove Village also have asserted a number of other claims before the 7th Circuit.
The villages are asking the court to prohibit the demolition of more than 600 homes, businesses and parks in the two municipalities because of what they consider a strong likelihood that O'Hare expansion may not be fully carried out.
The villages point to a lack of financial commitment to the full project by the airline industry, as well as insufficient city bonding and federal funding to complete the $15 billion project.
http://www.nbc5.com/news/9631361/detail.html which says:
Court: O'Hare Project Doesn't Violate Religious Freedom Laws
O'Hare Expansions Jumps Another Hurdle August 4, 2006
CHICAGO -- The city of Chicago passed another hurdle in the O'Hare expansion project.
On Friday, a federal court ruled that using federal money to fund the project does not violate religious freedom laws.
A church, two suburbs and several residents had challenged the plan. One point of contention was moving the Rest Haven Cemetery.
The court rejected their challenges, but the city is still waiting for another court ruling on the actual acquisition of the land.
That's expected in a few days
U.S. Appeals Court: O'Hare Expansion Has Green Light
WASHINGTON (WBBM/CBS/STNG) -- The City of Chicago won an important court ruling Friday in the quest to expand O'Hare International Airport. An appeals court in the nation's capitol has given the city the green light to go ahead with the project.
As WBBM's Julie Mann reports, The Suburban O'Hare Commission appealed an earlier court ruling. The group claimed the Federal Aviation Administration did not justify the cost of the project and did not follow proper procedure when approving the expansion plan.
The ruling came down on Friday in Washington D.C. It centered around the 157-year-old St. Johannes Cemetery Cemetery in Bensenville, owned by St. John’s United Church of Christ, which the city has planned to condemn for airport expansion.
The Village of Bensenville had filed a lawsuit to halt O’Hare expansion on the grounds that condemning the cemetery would amount to an unconstitutional violation of the expression of religion.
But in a 2-1 vote Friday, the Appeals Court ruled that the city went through proper procedures and can go forward with the plan.
The city announced its desire to take over the cemetery in March in return for $630,000. The church rejected the offer.
In a letter a short time later, the St. John’s Church Council and pastor, St. John’s indicated to the City of Chicago that it found the offer unacceptable, the release said.
“As a Christian congregation, we find this proposal entirely unacceptable and even blasphemous,” the letter said. “To even contemplate the offering up of such a sum of money, or any sum of money, with the intent that this congregation would go against our religious faith, is unfathomable and offensive.
Elk Grove Village and Bensenville officials plan to discuss the Appeals Court ruling at 2 p.m. Friday.
The ruling could clear the way for the demolition of about 600 homes in suburban Bensenville and Elk Grove Village.
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