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Obamaland

edsl48

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#81
An unorthodox argument against the Obama Center
An advocacy group seeking to block construction of the presidential facility in Jackson Park has employed an argument that leans on an unexpected pillar: the First Amendment.
LISA BERTAGNOLI



Getty Images
Former US President Barack Obama points to a location on a map that shows the design of the Obama Presidential Center as he speaks about the progress of the center during a community event at the South Shore Cultural Center on May 3, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Obama Presidential Center will be constructed in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side Woodlawn neighborhood.
An advocacy group seeking to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center on public land in Jackson Park has employed an argument that leans on an unexpected pillar: the First Amendment.
In a lawsuit filed against the city, Protect Our Parks argues that former President Barack Obama would use the center to espouse his ideas and support "Democrat" candidates, and should be barred from doing so on taxpayer-financed land.
"Former President Obama has made it known that he intends to use his Center as a 'bully pulpit' to continue his political activities by raising money for the Democrat Party, endorsing individual candidates for election, speaking out on controversial partisan political issues, and being outspoken in critiquing the actions of succeeding presidents and elected members of Congress with whom he disagrees," says one count of Protect Our Parks v. City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, filed in May in U.S. District Court. The suit says the Museum Act provides for a new real estate tax to be imposed on city dwellers to support the presidential center, and that amounts to forced or compelled speech.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blakey ruled that the suit can proceed, despite the city's motion to dismiss. In his ruling, Blakey swatted aside the First Amendment argument, saying that the matter called for speculation and that the court cannot rule on things that might or might not happen. Spokespeople for Protect Our Parks, however, say they're keeping the First Amendment argument in their back pockets for future use.

Use of the First Amendment "is very unusual," says attorney Mara Georges of Daley & Georges, who served as corporation counsel under Mayor Richard M. Daley. "I can't think of a time when it has happened." Whether the argument holds water is iffy, she says. First, she explains, federal law prohibits the Obama Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, from engaging in political activities. Second, "they're saying, 'We speculate that at some unknown time in the future, there will be illegal activity done by this 501(c)(3) despite its status,' " she says. "Courts don't presume that unlawful things will happen in the future."
Obama's political leanings have no legal bearing on the argument, says Herb Caplan, an attorney and president of Protect Our Parks, the nonprofit plaintiff that brought the suit. "If this were the Rahm Emanuel Center or the Trump Center, it would make no difference," he says. "The legal principle applies to everyone." Because Obama was a president and has a political affiliation, the center is "inherently political," Caplan says. "Everything he does in public statements and actions is designed to advance his political program."
Caplan, who identifies as an independent, has funded the suit with $60,000 of his own money. Protect Our Parks has raised about $15,000 to help pay for the case.
Protect Our Parks added the First Amendment argument to its complaint in June, after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Janus v. the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. In that landmark decision, the court ruled that employees who did not support a union could not be required to pay union dues and that requiring them to do so amounted to compelled speech. The link between the Protect Our Parks suit and Janus is the use of taxpayer money to support political speech, Caplan says, noting that taxpayer dollars have already been spent on the Obama Presidential Center. City officials estimate the city will pay about $175 million for site remediation, road changes and other work needed to accommodate the center.
CONSTITUTIONALITY
It is unconstitutional to force people to contribute money to political causes with which they disagree, but not through general tax expenditures. "Citizens can't exercise that kind of control over what the government does," says Martin Redish, Louis and Harriet Ancel professor of law and public policy at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law and senior counsel at Sidley Austin in Chicago. (Sidley Austin attorneys handle work for the Obama Foundation; Redish says he's not not involved in that work.) "They can't hold their taxes hostage—that would be complete chaos."
City attorneys decline to comment on pending litigation. In a Feb. 1 brief, they also cited the speculative nature of the First Amendment claim. The brief also pointed out that federal law prohibits the center, run by the nonprofit Obama Foundation, to engage in political speech, and that the city's land-use agreementwith the Obama Center forbids political speech or fundraisers on the property.
Meanwhile, Preservation Chicago has placed Jackson Park, along with the South Shore Cultural Center and the Midway Plaisance, on its list of the most endangered historical sites in the city. The report suggests that "heavy-handed design plans" for the center could result in Jackson Park being dropped from the National Register of Historic Places, as was Soldier Field after its 2002-03 design modifications. "If the same impact and loss occurred at Jackson Park . . . it would be a significant loss to the Woodlawn community, the city of Chicago and supporters around the world."
 

FunnyMoney

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#82
Why? Ya' can't possibly hate that gator that much.
Somewhere on the Internet I read that they're all actually reptiles anyway.

I somehow don't believe it though because the recent crop we've had, they have been too stupid to be reptiles.