Madigan urges high court to reject effort to close Chicago locks

Chris Rizo Jan. 5, 2010, 6:00pm

Lisa Madigan (D-Ill.)

Mike Cox (R-Mich.)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Supreme Court should reject a multistate request to close the locks that connect Lake Michigan and the Mississippi river, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Tuesday.

Madigan was responding to a lawsuit filed by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who has asked the nation's highest court to grant a preliminary injunction, closing some Chicago-area locks connecting Illinois waterways to Lake Michigan to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

In urging the justices to reject Cox's claims, Madigan said the Michigan attorney general has, among other things, failed to show that it will suffer "irreparable harm" if the locks are not closed.
"First, Michigan offers no substantial evidence that the threatened injury is more than speculative at this time," Madigan wrote.

"Michigan, which seriously downplays the severe public health, safety, environmental, and economic harms that its requested relief will cause, also fails to demonstrate that the balance of equities and public interest weigh in its favor. Accordingly, Michigan is unable to show that it is entitled to the extraordinary relief it requests," Madigan added.

For many years, the invasive bighead and silver carp have been migrating northward in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Cox and a group of other state attorneys general have said that if the invasive species is allowed to migrate into the Great Lakes it could ravage the regional fishing economy.

"Asian carp must be stopped now because we will not have a second chance once they enter Lake Michigan," Cox said. "The combination of finding carp and carp DNA so close to Lake Michigan is something that should cause great concern for us all."

Last month, Cox sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the state of Illinois, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago asking that they take immediate action against the invasive carp species.

The case is being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court because legal disputes among states are adjudicated by the high court. In seeking the preliminary injunction to close the locks, Cox reopened a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the threats plaintiffs say it poses to the Great Lakes.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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