Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down on Thursday, June 15. The cases are People v. Alexander and People v. Nelson.
By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender
In 2011, the Occupy Chicago movement demonstrated in Chicago’s financial district. About three weeks into the protest, the demonstrators were directed to an area known as Congress Plaza in Grant Park, but were then told they would have to leave at 11:00 p.m., pursuant to an ordinance that closes the park overnight, so that park employees could clean and maintain the park, and for safety concerns. Protesters who remained in the park at 1:00 a.m. were arrested for refusing to leave the park.
The circuit court dismissed the charges, finding that the ordinance was unconstitutional on its face and as applied to the defendants, in part because the Chicago Police Department occasionally permitted after-hours assemblage, including President Obama’s election night rally in 2008.
The appellate court, First District, reversed, holding that the ordinance did not violate the defendants’ right to assemble under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court entered a supervisory order, which directed the appellate court to consider whether the Park District Ordinance violated the Illinois Constitution. The appellate court again reversed the circuit court’s judgment.