AURORA - Thursday, DuPage County Judge Paul Fullerton dismissed a zoning lawsuit against the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Aurora, Illinois, brought by Thomas More Society attorneys on behalf of local residents and a community group, Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood.
The court ruled that the City of Aurora's decision to handle the facility under a more lenient zoning for a medical clinic instead of the more restrictive zoning for a non-profit health center was a legislative decision, entitled to the highest level of deference by the court. The Thomas More Society intends to appeal the decision.
"This non-profit facility is located in a business district in Aurora reserved for tax-paying for-profit businesses," said Peter Breen, Vice President and Senior Counsel for the Thomas More Society. "However, the court did not meaningfully analyze city officials' decision to treat this property as if it were a for-profit business, instead holding that the decision must be respected as 'legislative.' Our system of government requires the judicial branch to rein in unlawful executive branch decisions, but this ruling would insulate from review most decisions made by unelected administrators during the zoning process, leaving residents powerless to challenge illegal facilities in their neighborhoods. We give great weight to legislative decisions because they are made by the elected legislature, not by unelected administrators."
Thomas More Society attorneys have brought three separate administrative actions and two lawsuits against the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Aurora, Illinois, alleging numerous zoning and building code violations during the planning and construction of the facility. While the zoning process began in January 2006, Planned Parenthood's involvement in the project was hidden. Planned Parenthood obtained zoning and permits under the name of Gemini Office Development ("G.O.D."), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of 21st Century Office Development, which, in turn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. The intended use of the facility became known to the public in July 2007, shortly before its scheduled opening. Aurora city officials allowed the facility to open on October 1, 2007, and the first administrative zoning action against the facility was filed the next day. The lawsuit was filed in February 2008 and has been delayed repeatedly as it made its way through state court, and briefly in federal court.
Over the past five and a half years, eight different judges have presided over the case: six in DuPage County -- with three judges issuing substantive rulings, one judge being substituted and two judges recusing themselves from hearing the case, one U.S. District Judge, and one U.S. Magistrate Judge.