On Friday, October 23, Judge Neal Cerne (pictured to the right) heard arguments on Planned Parenthood and the City of Aurora’s motion to dismiss Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood’s zoning case in the Illinois 18th Judicial Circuit Court. I’ll tell you all about the hearing in a minute, but first let me emphasize that this case is one of the biggest reasons we need to pack the Aurora City Council meeting Tuesday, October 27 at 6 p.m. at Aurora City Hall, 44 W. Downer Pl. (Map) when the council will consider Alderman Rick Lawrence’s appeal of the city’s approval for Planned Parenthood to add new parking. Among other reasons, the city must not allow Planned Parenthood to add to their property while the zoning of their property is the subject of a lawsuit in state court (see Eric’s post on the situation here for all the reasons). Call the City Clerk at 630-844-3615 to get on the list to speak at the meeting. Over a dozen pro-lifers joined me in the courtroom on Friday. Attorneys Peter Breen and Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center, Chicago represented Fox Valley pro-lifers while attorneys Chris Wilson, Allen Wall and Gary Mickey represented Planned Parenthood, the City of Aurora and the Aurora Zoning Board of Appeals, respectively. Having followed this case for over two years now since before Planned Parenthood first opened in Aurora, I was greatly encouraged to see Judge Cerne take our arguments about the improper zoning of the “Abortion Fortress” seriously. Despite multiple attempts by opposing counsel to distract him from the merits of our case, Judge Cerne returned time and again to the important central points of our case:
- Planned Parenthood came into Aurora under false pretenses and a false name, as such we had no opportunity to pursue the proper legal remedies in a timely fashion.
- The zoning on the property Planned Parenthood’s building sits on forbids a non-profit medical facility from operating there—and that’s precisely what Planned Parenthood is.
Planned Parenthood and the City’s attorneys tried every trick in the book to distract Judge Cerne from the meat of the case. Mr. Wilson’s constant refrain was that we should have made these appeals earlier in the process. Mr. Wall said again and again that the city of Aurora had already decided that the property could be used for Planned Parenthood’s purposes. At one point, Mr. Mickey even went on a rant telling the judge what authority he did and didn’t have to decide in the case. But each time, though he considered their points carefully, he seemed to return to those two central points of our case that make it necessary for it to be tried and not dismissed. There are several ways the judge could rule and each one would plot a different course for the future of this case. He could grant the motion from the City and Planned Parenthood and dismiss the case. In that instance, we would certainly appeal his ruling and continue up the chain to higher courts. Judge Cerne could also deny the motion to dismiss, but there are several ways he could go about doing that. He could deny the motion and have the case go forward in his court, he could deny the motion and send the case back to the Aurora Zoning board of Appeals with instructions that they must hear the case on its merits, not just claim they don’t have jurisdiction like they did last time, or he could find some other way of proceeding we haven’t foreseen yet. Whatever his ruling, we’re ready to fight as long and hard as we have to to keep abortion out of Aurora. One of the first things the judge said upon entering the courtroom was that he wasn’t going to rule from the bench. He wanted to hear arguments from both sides and take some serious time to consider the evidence before ruling. After over an hour of arguments, Judge Cerne set a date for his ruling: Friday November 6 at 11 a.m. Get a map and all the details on how you can be there to hear this important ruling here. Please continue to pray for victory in this case, for wisdom for our attorneys and for Judge Cerne. As Proverbs says, “. . .the heart of the king in in the hands of the Lord, He turns it wherever he will”. And make sure to come out and show your support for life at City Council on Tuesday.