Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


December 3, 1990

CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, a Municipal Corporation, and COMMISSION ON CHICAGO LANDMARKS, an Agency Thereof, Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN


 On September 19, 1990, we dismissed the plaintiff's complaint in this case for lack of standing. See Alger v. City of Chicago, 748 F. Supp. 617 (N.D. Ill. 1990). On October 2, 1990, the plaintiffs, Rebecca Alger, Lisa Marini, Joan Smuda, The Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States, moved to reopen the judgment and for leave to file an amended complaint. For the reasons discussed below, these motions are denied.


 The plaintiffs brought their original action on May 15, 1990 seeking both a declaration that Chicago, Ill., Municipal Code § 21-69.1 (1987) (hereinafter "Municipal Code § " or "§ ") is unconstitutional and an order permanently enjoining its enforcement. Section 21-69.1 gives special status to religious buildings under Chicago's landmark ordinance. Under this ordinance, if any property is designated a "Chicago Landmark," it cannot be altered, modified, or demolished without the express authority of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks (the "Commission" or "Landmark Commission"), a defendant in this case. Municipal Code § 21-77. This building restriction is intended to preserve buildings, sites, and areas that possess unique historical and aesthetic value.

 Normally, a property can be designated a landmark without the owner's consent and even over his or her objections. Under § 21-69.1, however, a property that is "owned by a religious organization and used primarily as a place for the conduct of religious ceremonies" cannot be designated a landmark without the owner's express consent. In essence, § 21-69.1 gives owners of religious buildings the ability to "veto" a landmark designation. By avoiding designation, the owner of a religious building avoids the consequent construction restrictions and, thus, can demolish or alter the building without consideration of the public interest.

 In a letter dated November 21, 1989, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, avoided the designation of St. Mary's when he declined to give his consent to landmark status. The plaintiffs subsequently brought their original action based primarily on the allegation that their interest in the "use, enjoyment and aesthetic appreciation of St. Mary's" was threatened by the operation of § 21-69.1, due to the consequent possibility that St. Mary's could be altered or demolished. They sought a declaration from this Court that § 21-69.1 is unconstitutional, arguing that it violates the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses of the Federal and Illinois Constitutions, and that it unlawfully delegates legislative power to religious organizations in violation of the Illinois Constitution.

 a. Original Complaint Dismissed

 We dismissed the original complaint for lack of standing because it failed to allege a sufficient "actual or threatened injury." A "plaintiff who challenges a statute must demonstrate a realistic danger of sustaining a direct injury as a result of the statute's operation or enforcement." Pennell v. City of San Jose, 485 U.S. 1, 8, 108 S. Ct. 849, 855, 99 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1988) (quoting Babbitt v. Farm Workers, 442 U.S. 289, 298, 99 S. Ct. 2301, 2308, 60 L. Ed. 2d 895 (1979)). The threat of direct injury must be "both real and immediate, not conjectural or hypothetical." City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 103, 103 S. Ct. 1660, 1665, 75 L. Ed. 2d 675 (1983) (quotations omitted). In their original complaint, the plaintiffs did not allege any facts which suggested that there was any danger that church officials would alter or demolish St. Mary's. The plaintiffs simply alleged that, due to the effect of § 21-69.1, there was nothing to prevent church officials from doing so. Accordingly, we dismissed the complaint holding that it demonstrated no more than a " possibility St. Mary's will someday be altered in an injurious way," and did not, therefore, allege "the 'real and immediate' threat of injury necessary to confer standing under Article III." Alger, at 621, [slip op.] at 7.

 b. Amended Complaint

 Having realized the shortcomings of their original complaint, the plaintiffs seek to file an Amended Complaint that sets forth a number of additional facts that they contend demonstrate the danger of St. Mary's ultimate demolition is significantly greater than a mere abstract "possibility." According to the Amended Complaint, St. Mary's was closed in January of 1988 because of "safety reasons due to structural concerns," and it remains closed today. In the letter that Cardinal Bernardin sent refusing consent, he stated that, although the "Archdiocese and members of the parish of St. Mary of the Angels have been working towards a solution of this problem, and some monies have been raised for the purpose of making the church building safe for occupancy, . . . there is no way of presently predicting the success of the money raising efforts." Consequently, he stated, although he "personally prayed for the renovation of the church building," he could not give his consent to landmark designation.

 In late January 1990, the Archdiocese was offered over $ 1 million in donations from parishioners, neighbors, and other "restoration supporters" to complete the needed repairs, which it refused to accept stating that it was $ 150,000 less than the necessary amount. Soon thereafter, it was offered a $ 150,000 guarantee to make up the difference, which it also refused.

 Later, in a letter dated February 2, 1990 to Reverend Edwin Lapinski, St. Mary's pastor, Cardinal Bernardin stated that

. . . the issue is not that of St. Mary of the Angels Parish, which will continue to serve the people of the community in the great tradition of the Resurrectionist Fathers; it is rather the question of the future of the church building of St. Mary of the Angels. I said in my May 4 letter that if the necessary funds were not received, then difficult ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.